'He's a nong': MPs clash as farmers face price hike

MEMBER for Maryborough Bruce Saunders has accused a fellow MP of telling untruths in a war of words over potential water price rises.

Gympie MP and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett visited Maryborough earlier this month to talk with canegrowers after it was revealed a State Government-led review of water prices could result in a significant increase.

LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last was also in the Heritage City to discuss the issue.

He said the price increase could be as high as $44.81 per megalitre to reach the government-mandated pricing model.

While price increases were capped at $2.38 a megalitre per year, plus inflation, that would translate to 15 years of consecutive water price increases for the region's farmers, Mr Last said.

Mr Perrett called on Mr Saunders to stand up for Maryborough's farmers.

"It appears as though Bruce Saunders is too busy being a self-professed 'union thug' to care about an issue as important as out of control water prices," he said.

"It's time for Labor to step in and guarantee the future of irrigated agriculture in the Wide Bay."

But Mr Saunders said the price rise claims from the LNP were causing growers "unnecessary angst".

He accused Mr Perrett of failing to tell the truth on the matter.

"He's a nong," he said.

Mr Last said the projected price increases were unacceptable and should be of major concern to farmers.

"Under the 'cost-reflective' prices Lower Mary will see a $44.81 per M/L increase, Bundaberg will experience $34.69 per M/L and Upper Burnett, $23.27 per M/L," he said.

"If the Labor Government wants to move to 'cost-reflective' pricing for water, then it has a lot more work to do to ensure SunWater is providing value for money to its rural customers."

Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham said the Queensland Competition Authority, as the state's independent economic regulator, was currently reviewing the irrigation water prices to be charged by SunWater and Seqwater from mid-2020 through to mid-2024.


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