The Palaszczuk Government has delivered on another election commitment, with Queensland’s horticulture growers now able to access a further 35 per cent rebate on water charges.
The additional discount on Sunwater and Seqwater irrigation charges for horticulture growers is on top of the 15 per cent discount provided to all irrigators for the next three years as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s economic plan to build back from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister for Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water Glenn Butcher said the rebate was part of the government’s $81.6 million commitment to reduce irrigation prices across the state.
“Supporting high employment industries is vital for Queensland’s recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Butcher said.
“Irrigated agriculture – including fruit, vegetable, nut and turf operations – is one of Queensland’s most important industries, both in terms of employment and value to our economy.
“This rebate will take the water cost reduction to a 50 per cent discount for horticultural irrigators in recognition of the significant jobs supported by these crops.”
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) has been appointed to administer the additional discount for horticulture irrigators.
“We committed to a rebate scheme that would be simple and straightforward for horticulture growers to access and claim their additional discount,” Mr Furner said.
“I’m pleased to say that we have met that commitment, and that horticultural growers will be able to apply for their rebate using the kinds of evidence they would already have as part of running their business.”
The program will be flexible enough to accommodate all forms of eligible horticultural farm businesses across the State. This will include accommodating circumstances where water may not be currently available but has historically been used to produce horticultural crops.
Evidence that will be accepted in rebate applications includes receipts relating to the sale of horticultural crops, farm plans showing the areas used for producing horticultural crops and photographic evidence clearly showing where different crops are being grown.
Growcom Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Barnard, commended the government for its significant investment in the sector and for making the rebate easy to access.
“This rebate is the single most significant initiative this government has put into place to directly benefit the horticultural industry and the jobs it supports,” Mr Barnard said.
“Keeping the red tape to an absolute minimum will ensure more funds would flow to irrigators who can use the support to grow their businesses and invest in the regional communities that rely on them.”
Mr Butcher said growers would be able to apply for the rebate immediately after paying their first bill of the new financial year.
“Every drop of water used to irrigate horticultural crops in the next three years will be eligible for the discount, whether growers apply tomorrow or on 31 December 2024 when the scheme ends.”