MUTE: Commonwealth support for the drought-stricken region is under a cloud, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg failing to commit cash during a visit to the region.
MUTE: Commonwealth support for the drought-stricken region is under a cloud, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg failing to commit cash during a visit to the region. ELLEN SMITH

EXCLUSIVE: What Treasurer's visit means for water funding

FUTURE Commonwealth support for the drought-stricken Lockyer Valley remains under a cloud with no rain, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg failing to provide cash during a visit to the region.

Mr Frydenberg toured the area yesterday with Member for Wright Scott Buchholz, before meeting with Lockyer MP Jim McDonald and local farmers at the Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre.

"Today we're talking about irrigation, and about water security because everything starts with water,” Mr Frydenberg said.

But despite this, the treasurer wouldn't be drawn on whether federal government support for the Lockyer Valley and Somerset Water Security Scheme would be forthcoming.

The Lockyer Valley and Somerset Water Collaborative is finalising a business case to pipe water from Wivenhoe Dam to the region to ensure water security for the agricultural industry. 

The collaborative has previously called for federal government assistance to help make the proposal a reality, and claim piping water would provide an additional 1400 on-farm jobs, 2300 downstream jobs and $640 million in gross value of agriculture production for the local community.

"I've already been given a preliminary briefing on that - it sounds like an interesting proposition,” he said in response to questions from the Gatton Star.

"There's still business cases that need to go through and obviously that's something that Scott (Buchholz) will keep a very close eye on.”

The Lockyer Valley Council area was drought declared in May last year, but farmers had been battling dry conditions for months before hand. 

The region's dams have largely dried up, with Lake Clarendon is nothing more than a puddle sitting at just 0.2 per cent capacity, while Bill Gunn presently holds just 2.8 per cent of its capacity. 

HOT TOPIC: Qualipac Director Troy Qualischefski discusses water security with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Lockyer MP Jim McDonald and Wright MP Scott Buchholz.
HOT TOPIC: Qualipac Director Troy Qualischefski discusses water security with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Lockyer MP Jim McDonald and Wright MP Scott Buchholz. Dominic Elsome

The Treasurer also wouldn't be drawn on possible future rounds of the Drought Communities Programme-Extension grant.

Previously, the grant program supplied local councils with up to $1 million for community infrastructure and other drought relief projects for communities impacted by drought.

With the dry still raging across much of Queensland and New South Wales, calls are growing for further funding to boost hard-hit communities.

But Mr Frydenberg wouldn't say for certain whether further funding would be made available.

"We continue to talk to the communities and respond to their needs,” he said.

"I have to say that the government has moved as quickly as possible, working with state governments to ensure that the communities affected get the support.”



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