​Media release

​Strategic water acquisition in Queensland Condamine Balonne

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud
15 August 2017

  • The Commonwealth has made a strategic acquisition of more than 28 GL (26 GL LTAAY) in the Queensland Condamine–Balonne.
  • This will make a significant contribution towards achieving the remaining local water recovery required for the Condamine–Balonne under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.
  • The decommissioning of structures as part of the sale will also provide important flood mitigation to the town of St George.
The Commonwealth has made a significant step towards achieving the remaining water recovery required under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan in the Condamine–Balonne, with a strategic acquisition of more than 28 GL (26 GL LTAAY) in the region.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the strategic acquisition represented 70 per cent of the remaining local water recovery task for the Condamine–Balonne under the 320 GL Northern Basin water recovery target proposed by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.

“This acquisition was a unique opportunity to secure a significant volume of water in a catchment of particular strategic importance to achieving the triple-bottom line outcomes of the Basin Plan,” Minister Joyce said. “But I know there are communities where the prospect of any further water recovery will be met with concern,” Minister Joyce said.

“We understand that every job is important for rural communities, however, the impacts of this water recovery have been independently assessed to confirm that this purchase of overland flow licences should have a relatively low impact on regional production and casual employment.

“Both I and local Maranoa MP, David Littleproud, have lived in St George, so we know the value of a megalitre of water to the St George and Dirranbandi communities. In this process I would like to recognise David’s efforts to secure the best outcome for the region while protecting as many family farms as possible. 

“The company that has sold their water entitlements will continue their mixed-farming business, including irrigation, and so will continue to contribute significantly to the local economy.

“St George will also gain important flood mitigation benefits from the decommissioning and modification of structures on the property. These works will help flood waters to be better managed into the future.”

Comments from local Federal Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud MP:
“This strategic purchase provides an opportunity to now complete the balance of the lower Balonne's Murray-Darling Basin Plan commitments through improved water infrastructure and purchases upstream from the Balonne catchment, putting an end to the uncertainty once and for all,” Mr Littleproud said.

“While this is not the most ideal outcome, it goes towards protecting the small family farms and those small businesses which support those smaller irrigators in the Lower Balonne from further buyback impacts.

“Affected communities in my electorate want to get on with life and get back to business—certainty surrounding this plan is what’s needed for us to move forward—which is why I support the 320 GL recommended target.

“That’s why I’m now calling on all Queensland Labor Senators to put on the public record they back our state and support this Northern Basin review when Parliament resumes—like their state colleagues have.”

For more information on strategic water recovery in the Murray–Darling Basin, visit agriculture.gov.au/water/markets/commonwealth-water-mdb
For more information on the Healthy HeadWaters Water Use Efficiency program visit dnrm.qld.gov.au/water/catchments-planning/healthy-headwaters/water-use-efficiency-project​

Fast facts
  • This strategic water acquisition will count towards the Australian Government’s 1,500 GL limit on surface water purchasing. Total recovery through purchase remains well below this cap.
  • The value of agricultural production in the Queensland Border Rivers and Condamine Balonne regions increased from $2.75 billion in 2011–12 to $2.85 billion in 2014–15.