SEVEN DAYS: Farmers issue warning to State Government
DROUGHT conditions are growing more dire by the day as the cries of Southern Downs farmers struggle to be heard by State Government departments.
For months irrigators have called, written, petitioned and rallied to revoke restrictions that prevent them from watering their crops more than two nights a week.
Crops have failed and livestock has died in the time since the restrictions were introduced, as farming families sacrificed their livelihoods for fear of a $62,000 fine.
A Department of Natural Resources spokesman said farmers were able to apply for a water meter to allow them to pump water at more suitable times.
The installation would come at a hefty cost to farmers.
Last week the Glengallan Group met at Gladfield Hall to heatedly make their case to state representatives after a previous protest at Swan Creek failed to garner attention.
"They were certainly listening today, it got quite heated,” Mr Ryan said.
"There were desperate people putting their points across and trying to get the department to understand.”
More than 50 people placed a unanimous vote to demonstrate, once again, the need for restrictions to be revoked.
"With the desperation the way it is now, it is the worst time in Australian history to come in and try and take our living with us,” Mr Ryan said.
"Some people are so far behind in water for their cattle they're wondering how they'll be able to catch up.”
The Swan Creek petition was received by the parliament committee but will not be addressed for another three weeks.
Irrigators gave the State Government seven days to respond.
The department spokesman said they were considering proposals to address these matters and would look into creating a group of community representatives for future consultation.
"We understand that we're in a dry time and there's a need for restrictions but they need to be workable,” Mr Ryan said.
"We're asking for five nights a week, eight hours a night.”
Should this plan fail, the next stage would see the issue tabled with the State Government ombudsman.
"We will go over their heads,” he said.
"We've never used them before but they have the power to overrule the minister.
"We just want to survive to the other side of this drought.”