Member rejects response on water
LOCAL member Lawrence Springborg remains unsatisfied with the response given to him by Environment and Resource Management Minister Kate Jones over the controversial Cherrabah Resort water allocation.
Elbow Valley landholders were left baffled by the Department of Resource Management's (DERM) decision to increase the resort's water allocation from 50 to 96 megalitres a year despite their objection and the fact the resort only asked for 55 megalitres a year.
In their fight against the application, the landholders learnt the case had been called before the minister before a decision was made and questioned the political influence.
Mr Springborg took up their cause by tabling a question in parliament asking to see all the documents relating to the decision.
Earlier this week he received a response from Ms Jones, which suggested the allocation was reduced from 127 megalitres per annum to 96.
However, in the original decision there was a maximum take of 500 megalitres over 10 years, but the second decision has no such maximum.
The number-play irked Mr Springborg ,who yesterday called for more transparency from the minister's office.
“Local primary producers can justifiably be asking questions about this,” he said.
“They've had no extra underground water since the 1996 moratorium but now they have miraculously found a new water supply.”
Minister Jones said she understood a number of interested parties had viewed material on the decision and that the various documents were made available to them.
“I would be happy to make them available to the Member for Southern Downs to examine as well, if he so wishes,” she said.
However, Mr Springborg said he understood there was a lot of dissatisfaction within the department about the decision and that information demonstrating this had not been released.
“I understand there was concern about the decision from local department officers,” he said.
“All I want is transparency and to make sure everyone is being treated equally.”
The water allocation was to allow the resort to expand into a tourist complex, which could house a population as big as Stanthorpe's.
While it received planning permission from Southern Downs Regional Council, the Federal Government is still assessing its impact on the native spotted-tailed quoll residing in the area.