DICK ADAMS MHR
Federal Member for Lyons
JUST ADD WATER: SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS IRRIGATION SCHEME GETS GOVERNMENT BOOST
The Southern Highlands Irrigation Scheme will receive $14.75 million from a re-elected Rudd Labor Government for the continued roll out of irrigation schemes around Tasmania. Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Joel Fitzgibbon joined Member for Lyons Dick Adams to make the announcement, saying the funding will secure the future for many landholders by giving them a permanent water supply and allowing them to diversify their farming.
“The $14.75 million from Federal Labor will deliver better productivity and incomes for Tasmanian farmers as they move from pasture to crops and horticulture,” Minister Fitzgibbon said. “The addition of higher value crops and higher production systems on farms will also bring training and employment opportunities in the Southern Highlands, particularly for younger people seeking well-paid and high-skill careers in agriculture.
“As farms diversify and plan production based on secure water availability, the skill set and education requirements of employees will greatly expand. This delivers great career prospects to Tasmania and the highlands. Importantly, the scheme will help local farmers seize the opportunities offered by the Asian-led ‘Dining Boom’ and grow their valuable export market. Dick Adams has been pushing to have the program funded since the last election and today’s announcement will help secure a stronger future for farmers and a stronger economy for Tasmania.”
The Scheme was first proposed over twenty years ago, with work commencing in 2008 as part of an original eleven irrigation schemes. Mr Adams said the Scheme would bring local farmers a huge number of benefits. “The Scheme will irrigate a further 3,500 hectares of arable land in the area. This means a total of 8,000 hectares will have a secure water supply.
“The Scheme also involves the construction of a 6,500 megalitre dam to store winter flow from the Shannon and deliver it downstream via 32km of pipe to irrigators in the Shannon and Clyde catchments. The area covered extends from 25km north of Bothwell on the Lake Highway to 25km south of Bothwell in the Hollow Tree Road.”
An estimated 75 per cent of the water to be purchased in the Scheme would be used on land which currently does not have access to irrigation water, significantly increasing higher value irrigated crops such as poppies, grass seed production and dairy. Expressions of interest for water have been consistently strong since 2009 when the Scheme was first discussed under its initial design.
Mr Adams said that this was one of the major economic initiatives for the State and he congratulated the proponents for their well developed proposal. “We have some really forward thinking farmers in this state and I know that this proposal will ensure Tasmania has a strong future in farming.” The total cost of the scheme would be over $22 million, with irrigator’s water purchases covering $8 million of the cost. Funding for this commitment will come from uncommitted funding in Caring for our Country that is already included in the budget.
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