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Minister gives Qld Premier a guarantee that farmers will retain their rights to stock and domestic bores under national water plan.

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Wednesday 20 June 2007

Minister gives Qld Premier a guarantee that farmers will retain their rights to stock and domestic bores under national water plan


TONY EASTLEY: Queensland Premier Pe ter Beattie likes a guarantee, and he says he's received a rolled gold one from the Federal Water Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. 


Mr Beattie says he's been promised the State's framers will keep their rights to bore water under the national water plan.  


And with that sticking point out of the way, the Murray-Darling proposal looks finally to be going full steam ahead.  


Jane Cowan reports.  


JANE COWAN: Just when the water deal looked like it was again falling apart, this time in Queensland, Peter Beattie has stepped in to get things back on an even keel.  


The Queensland Premier says he's spoken with the Federal Water Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and walked away with a guarantee.  


PETER BEATTIE: The Minister and I agree that there would be no limitation on bore water for domestic or stock use. 


JANE COWAN: At the moment, landholders can take water from rivers and ground water to use for domestic purposes and for their stock. 


Queensland farmers were worried they'd lose those rights under the national plan for the Murray-Darling Basin, and were threatening to walk away from the whole deal. 


Now Malcolm Turnbull has put this promise on the record in Parliament.  


MALCOLM TURNBULL: Let me confirm there is no intention to require metering of stock and domestic bores, except in special circumstances, where a particular groundwater system is under stress, or where there are local disputes about water sharing. 


JANE COWAN: The commitment came after the peak body representing Queensland's cattle and grain producers took farmers' concerns to the Queensland Premier.  


Peter Kenny is the President of AgForce.  


PETER KENNY: He realises of course, the same as we do, that the impact on the resource caused by grazing cattle is minimal. And, you know, it's commonsense really, as far as we're concerned, not to go into all sorts of expense with regards to the metering of these bores. 


JANE COWAN: The Victorian Government is still waiting to see the final draft of the Commonwealth's legislation. If the promises that State's been given verbally aren't there in black and white, the deal could still stall.  


But Peter Beattie says, from Queensland's perspective at least, the wrinkles have been ironed out.  


PETER BEATTIE: Clearly Malcolm Turnbull's concern was about irrigation and other matters, as was mine, as was obviously other people. AgForce want to guarantee that they get the water for, as I said, domestic and stock purposes, and that's - in the words of the Minister and I - a rolled gold guarantee. 


JANE COWAN: So as far as Queensland's concerned now, both with the farmers themselves and politically, the plan's ready to go? 


PETER BEATTIE: Well, we would hope that we could, in some way incorporate that in the legislation, and as a result of which then it's all systems go. 


TONY EASTLEY: The Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, ending that report from Jane Cowan.