Farmers in N.W fire up as Feds give nod to artesian sales

Lucy Knight, The Land, 26/06/2009

ANGRY farmers in the North West are trying to organise a boycott of next month’s Great Artesian Basin water auction in Walgett, but the Federal Government has confirmed it has no problems with the NSW Government’s planned sale.

Canberra will not step in and override the new water licence auction, with federal Parliamentary Secretary for Water, Mike Kelly, saying he is “comfortable” that artesian water savings recently made by bore water users can be sold to new licensees.

This is despite farmers on the NSW-Queensland border having to adjust to a recent decision to slash their artesian water entitlements by 66 per cent, with no compensation or structural adjustment.

North West farmer and grazier, Geoffrey Locke, is astounded by the State Government’s hypocrisy in moving to sell water landholders saved through capping and piping free-flowing bores.

Mr Locke’s Weemelah property, “Edenvale”, is part of the Coubal scheme, which in 2000 capped and piped bores on about 20 landholdings covering 66,000 hectares in the area.

“We saved at least 90 per cent of the water of bores that had been free-flowing for 90 years,” he said.

“It is hypocritical to think what they were trying to get us to do in the first place, and now they are going to sell it.”

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