Irrigation and water development the answer for Northern Australia

28 May 2015
Bob Katter

KAP Federal Leader and Member for Kennedy Bob Katter used Question Time today to ask a Question Without Notice of the Federal Agriculture Minister on the need for Government action on irrigation and water in Northern Australia to enhance the financial opportunities for farmers and graziers.

“If Northern Australia, the top third of Australia, were a separate country it would be the wettest country on Earth.

“Australia is not a country bereft of water; it is just that all the water is concentrated in the top third of the country, where none of the voting population is,” Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter started his question to the Minister with reference to reopening of the Indonesian Live Cattle Market.

“Discussions resulting in Indonesia reopening the Live Cattle Market centered around reductions in Australia’s handling costs.

“Charges nearly doubled the cost of purchase and shipping,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter went onto to point out that irrigation blocks would be self-financing and enhance the opportunities available in agriculture.

“30 small 1200 hectare irrigation blocks overcome such costs.

“These are self-financing and need only one percent of Gulf land and water,” Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter sought assurances from the Minister for expedited action.

“Could the Minister advise the State Authorities of the speedy necessity for such action?” asked Mr Katter.

Mr Katter said today the benefits to local landholders would be enormous with no cost to Government or the environment.

“If you give each of those landholders 200 hectares, it will dramatically help them financially because it is a golden handshake of $2 million.

“What does it cost the government? Nothing.

“What does it cost the environment? Nothing.

“It enhances the environment, because the floodwaters carry seeds from weeds, and all of these pernicious weeds get away on the banks of our rivers.

“If we have pasture for cattle on the banks of our rivers then those seeds cannot get away,” Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter believes there is enormous potential to create a beef superhighway in Northern Queensland to access the Indonesian market and create jobs for our First Australians.

“If we also add 31,000-hectare irrigation blocks, we can then provide a cheap, superfast highway for our beef going into Indonesia.

“So that is a great vista of opportunity—the movement of up to three million or four million extra head of cattle in Cape York Peninsula, which is mostly populated by our First Australians, who have no jobs and no income at the present moment.

“Cape York Peninsula has three times the rainfall of Victoria and only 100,000 head of cattle, whereas Victoria has seven million head of cattle.

“The Gulf of Carpentaria region in Queensland is home to some of the biggest rivers in Australia with untapped benefits which would greatly surpass that of the Murray-Darling.

“At the mouth of the Mitchell, Gilbert and Flinders rivers water is 60 kilometres wide – the land becomes a mass of freshwater that is lost to the people of Australia forever.

“We can never stop those floodwaters but we can utilise some, a very small proportion – four percent can feed 100 million people.

“Outside of Northern Australia there is no real potential for irrigation outside the Murray-Darling—just little short coastal streams.

“We in Northern Australia have 304 million mega litres and the rest of Australia has only 80 million.

“Eight million mega litres of irrigation water in the Murray-Darling feeds 20 million people, it provides the entire food requirements of 20 million people.

“We urge the governments of Australia to take us in that direction,” Mr Katter said.

Courtesy of Bob Katter

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