Canberra cleared to buy water in western Queensland

Andrew Fraser; 15/3/10

The federal government will proceed with a plan to spend $100 million on acquiring water rights to properties in western Queensland, following confirmation of the legality of trading such rights. A case was finalised in the Brisbane Supreme Court two weeks ago that had previously challenged the ability to buy and sell irrigation rights. The Queensland government is now preparing enabling legislation. The federal government has previously allocated $100m to buying back water rights to properties in the lower Balonne in western Queensland, which includes the giant Cubbie Station. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said in a statement water entitlements offered to the commonwealth were subject to “value-for-money assessment in the context of prevailing market prices, competing offers and potential environmental benefits”. “The lower Balonne system has been identified as a high priority for environmental water recovery. Water purchases made through this tender will deliver long-term benefits by providing additional water to key environmental assets.” Farmers have until next month to make offers for purchase of their water rights.