LNP calls for Labor to fast track Beaudesert connection to SEQ water grid

WATER: Dairy farmer Mark Plattell, AJ Bush and Son's David Kassulke, state LNP leader Deb Frecklington, Scenic Rim MP Jon Krause and Steve Strauss from Tinamba Turf. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
WATER: Dairy farmer Mark Plattell, AJ Bush and Son's David Kassulke, state LNP leader Deb Frecklington, Scenic Rim MP Jon Krause and Steve Strauss from Tinamba Turf. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

STATE LNP leader Deb Frecklington was in Beaudesert this morning with Scenic Rim LNP MP Jon Krause to highlight the need to fast track the town's connection to the SEQ water grid.

Meanwhile Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham fired back, accusing Ms Frecklington of backpedalling.

"As I told Parliament last week, the LNP Member for Currumbin has been bagging the grid for over a decade," he said.

"The LNP has had nothing but criticism for the SEQ water grid, but now that the foresightedness of previous Labor governments is proving its worth, they want to jump on the bandwagon."

Ms Frecklington said she was calling on the state government to secure Beaudesert's water supply by bringing forward connection to the SEQ water grid.

"Drought and water security is Queensland's number one issue," she said.

"Secure water means secure jobs. Water is vital for Beaudesert, Rathdowney and Kooralbyn and the commercial and irrigation allocations of dozens of local businesses depend on the Logan River and Maroon Dam.

"With the prolonged drought, all these businesses face drastic cuts to water allocations from Maroon Dam, causing huge losses in agricultural production and loss of local jobs."

Dr Lynham said the government had already taken steps to secure Beaudesert's water supply.

"Two new reservoirs are already under construction to bolster Beaudesert's water supply," he said.

"They have a combined capacity of 5.1 million litres and are scheduled to be completed by the middle of 2020.

"As for the southwest pipeline to connect Wyaralong Dam to the south-east water grid - Seqwater advises that early works will start in the second half of 2020.

"I point out that this is up to six months ahead of the proposed timeline set out in the publicly-available 2018 Queensland Bulk Water Opportunities Statement.

"The pipeline is scheduled to be operational by mid-2022."

Others on hand to meet with Ms Frecklington included David Kassulke from AJ Bush, dairy farmer Mark Plattell and turf farmer Steve Strauss.

Ms Frecklington said all three businesses faced disaster if water security was not prioritised.

"The turf industry relies on a steady supply of water, without it they would not be able to operate, which could lead to the loss of more than 100 jobs locally," she said.

"The only alternative for dairy farmers and manufacturers are also faced with having to buy water - and the prices have gone up, with many communities already running out of water."

Mr Plattell said there would probably be enough water in the dam to support local farmers if the town was connected to the SEQ grid.

Ms Frecklington said this should happen sooner rather than later.

"Labor should bring forward plans to build the southwest pipeline and ensure the funding allocation for the pipeline is released publicly and budgeted for in the 2020-21 budget," she said.

Mr Krause said SEQwater already had work underway to connect Beaudesert to the grid in 2021 through the southwest pipeline.

He said that reducing the town water demand would mean more water in Maroon Dam to maintain irrigation and commercial water allocations.

"This work needs to be fast tracked and Labor needs to release costings and budget for it," Mr Krause said.

"Canungra is now having water trucked into its reservoir from Beaudesert owing to the drought and the shutdown of the water treatment plant.

"If the drought continues in the longer term, Rathdowney and Kooralbyn will also face town water shortages.

"To ensure secure water supply for Beaudesert and the broader region such as Kooralbyn, Rathdowney and Canungra, and continuing allocations for farmers and other businesses from the Logan River and Maroon Dam, this pipeline needs to be a priority."