IT'S NOT FAIR: Hundreds demand minister revoke restriction
HUNDREDS of concerned Southern Downs ratepayers took to Swan Creek Hall to protest severe irrigation restrictions they say could cost producers their crops and livestock.
The restrictions prevent producers with unmetered bores from irrigating their crops more than two nights per week.
A motion to immediately revoke the restrictions received a unanimous vote from today's crowd, and more than 200 of those in attendance signed a petition for Member for Southern Downs James Lister to present in parliament.
Mr Lister said he had written to the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy expressing his concern about the lack of community consultation and notice.
The Minister responded, writing that the department met with a number of communities and apologised for not engaging with Glengallan and adjacent southern valleys.
Irrigator Lawrence Ryan told the crowd he was disappointed by the short notice irrigators received, with vegetable and dairy farmers expected to be hit the hardest.
"A lot of people have put crops in the ground in the last couple of weeks,” he said.
"They would have never been in the ground if we knew.”
During a rousing speech, Mr Ryan told the crowd how the department tried to explain their responsibility to the management of the aquifer.
"We are more responsible than they are,” he said, shaking his head.
"It's our future, it's our kids' future, and it's several generations' future.
"We are never, ever, going to do anything to destroy that.”
Mr Ryan said that if the community's efforts to overturn the restrictions failed, he believed they would have grounds to file a class action lawsuit for the cost of the loss of crop production.
"The majority of these licence holders are small mum and dad family farms just trying to make a living, keep their kids educated and trying to survive in very adverse times,” he said.
"They're interfering with someone else's business during a very, very stressful time.”