SA MP asks why the flow of efficiency funds has slowed
A stoush is unfolding in South Australia, where the Opposition has called on the State Government to explain why it has not secured around $100 million for farmers.
The SA Liberal opposition say the Labor government is denying farmers in rural river communities a significant funding package offered by the Federal Government.
The questions come after ABC News reports that the SA Government had not applied to the federal Environment Department’s $110 million Private Irrigation Infrastructure Program (PIIP).
Insiders claim South Australia has not lodged an application since 2011.
The PIIP was set up in 2009 to help irrigators improve their water efficiency. The grants are aimed at a broad range of efficiency measures including wireless pump and pipe monitors, drip irrigation and other approaches.
Liberal Member for Chaffey, Mr Tim Whetstone, said he would like to see the fund secured, and put to use to helping the state reach its obligations for water returns under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“South Australia still has to achieve 83 gigalitres to reach its commitment for the basin plan,” Whetstone said in a radio interview this week.
“As it stands at the moment, the South Australia River Murray Irrigation Industry Improvements Program will help us achieve 40 gigalitres but we have a remaining 43 gigalitres to achieve.”
The South Australian government has indicated it feels the PIIP is weighted in favour of states with lower standards of practice, which would therefore require more assistance. The government has indicated many irrigators do not meet the funding criteria.
The website for Murray Irrigation, a leading provider for the region, indicates that some funding has been secured and that it will be put to a variety of uses.
Murray Irrigation says it has entered into a funding agreement with the Commonwealth Government for; upgrading water management and measurement systems,targeted channel refurbishment, system reconfiguration and system retirement.