Mutchilba farmers refuse to pay water bills

from ABC

Irrigators in far north Queensland are refusing to pay their water bills or are demanding credits from the state government after copping a 90 per cent price hike.

Relift irrigators near Mareeba, whose farms rely on water being pumped from the channel system to higher ground, were the hardest hit by changes to water pricing following a Queensland Competition Authority review last year.

Karen Muccignat is one of about 50 farmers who are being asked to pay nearly $20 a megalitre more for water under the new price regime, despite a promise to cap increases at $2 plus CPI.

She says irrigators won’t and in some cases can’t afford to pay increases which equate to up to $14,000 a year.

“At the moment Sunwater is being very understanding. There will be no channel lock ups and there will be no penalties other than extra interest payments but we’ve got to make this stand because we’re getting walked over.”

“We don’t get any more for the produce that we grow compared to our fellow farmers down the road.”

A spokesman for Queensland Minister for Water Mark McArdle says he is working to resolve the current impasse, and is not expecting recovery action against irrigators in the immediate future.

Recent, huge water and electricity price hikes have caused farmers and small business to call for the abolition of the Competition Authority, which is an ideological product the two-party system of government.