Childers sugarcane grower Mark Mammino.
Childers sugarcane grower Mark Mammino.

Dam announcement leaves farmers ropeable

ROPEABLE, shock and disbelief are only three words which describe how many of the region's farmers were feeling after the announcement of the Paradise Dam works.

The announcement comes as a bitter pill so quickly after the reef regulations bill was passed in State Parliament last week.

Canegrowers Isis chairman Mark Mammino said he had taken countless calls from concerned farmers around the region.

"I was in a state of shock and disbelief," he said.

"We knew the issue was out there, but we are really disappointed they never consulted the irrigators before making the decision.

"I'm not sure this is the perfect solution."

Mr Mammino said some growers in the region weren't in the position to be ready for the use of additional water.

"There are a lot of people who have not got crops in the ground who may not have intentions of growing crops until next year," he said.

"My belief is Sunwater can't deliver the amount of water they're offering out to growers in the period of time that's been allotted.

"My concern is this whole state is feeling their part of the country is in a pretty poor position with the drought, we have towns in the southwest like Stanthorpe who are running out of water.

"My belief is a lot of the water they're lowering out of the dam is going to go out to sea, in this state of the climatic situation I believe it's a travesty to even contemplate letting water go out to sea."

Grower John Russo said he was ropeable at the announcement when it was made yesterday morning.

"They did it in the dead of night. I saw an email at five o'clock this morning saying they're dropping the level by five metres, this is just absolute rubbish," he said.

"Last week it was the environmental issues, and today it's water allocation.

"We've gone from being one of the most productive areas in Queensland with guaranteed water to becoming one of the basket cases of Queensland.

"The way they've done it without any consultation it's a little bit like when they sunk the Tobruk, they couldn't get it up the right way."

Mr Russo said the move would have an immense impact on his operation.

"We're in one of the biggest droughts we've ever had," he said.

"The long time viability of farmers has just gone backwards at 100km/h.

"I've put in three low pressure booms and solar power in an effort to reduce the water I use, I've got storage dams but we are pushing the proverbial at the moment."

Mr Mammino said many farmers he'd spoken to were questioning why they continue.

"The growers are really down at the moment - first it was dry, then the reef bill was passed last week and now there's this news on top of it.

"I've had people who are third and fourth generation growers asking me why they keep going.

"They've said there's no incentive for them to bring through the next generation on their farm."

He said it was hard to console farmers during the tough times.

"I can relate to their attitude, it's hard to console them," he said.

"They've said it's just been hit after hit and it's a really anti-region attitude by the government at the moment."

Bundaberg Canegrowers chairman Allan Dingle said he was hoping for more detail after a meeting last night.

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