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75% agree Gvt should reduce irrigation water charges

8 October 2020 | Three-quarters of voters polled in the marginal electorate of Burdekin agree the State Government should reduce irrigation water charges to boost the sugar industry’s contribution to Queensland’s COVID-19 recovery.

The poll of 537 voters in the Burdekin electorate, won by the LNP’s Dale Last by 467 votes at the 2017 State election, was commissioned by the Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) and conducted late last week.

ASMC Chief Executive Officer David Pietsch said the poll clearly demonstrated the views of people working and living in regional Queensland and their support for the sector.

As part of the COVID-19 recovery, Burdekin voters agreed that the Government should work with the sugar industry (75% agree according to the poll) and where possible reduce costs imposed on the sector, including reducing water charges (75% agree according to the poll) to support local jobs.

“It’s gratifying to see the strong support for the sugar industry and the recognition of the role we can play. The poll found 78% of voters surveyed agreed the sugar industry is important to the State’s recovery from the COVID downturn,” Mr Pietsch said.

“Whether they are working in the sector or not, regional Queenslanders know that a strong sugar industry provides jobs and underpins local communities.

“The sugar industry generates $4 billion for the economy – a contribution that means a lot to the 23,000 Queenslanders who depend on the sector, either directly or indirectly, to support themselves and their families.”

Mr Pietsch said ASMC had been working with all political parties to secure commitments to reduce irrigation charges. “The Liberal National Party (LNP) and Katter Australia Party (KAP) have already committed to water charge reductions, while Labor is considering our proposal for a 25% reduction in water charges over four years,” he said.

Mr Pietsch said independent research commissioned by ASMC showed a 25% reduction in water charges over four years would deliver up to $220 million in community benefit and a net increase of
140 jobs.

“Water charges have increased on average 4% every year for the last 10 years.

“In May, the Queensland Government announced it would freeze water charges for 12 months, but left the door open to further increases over the following three years,” said Mr Pietsch.

This poll was conducted on 30th September and 1st October 2020 utilising random sampling of landline and mobile numbers resulting in 537 completed samples. Survey results were weighted to population gender and age. The poll was conducted by KJC Research and has a margin of error of 5% at 99% confidence.

Authorised by David Pietsch, Level 11, 348 Edward Street, Brisbane, Queensland

References: https://asmc.com.au/policy-advocacy/sugar-irrigation-cost-benefit/

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