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22 July 2009 @ 11:58 am

Artesian water auctioned for $870,000 amid farmer protests

21/07/2009 4:54:00 PM
Some 1200 megalitres of Great Artesian Basin water has been auctioned off for $870,000 by the NSW State Government in Walgett today amid protests from primary producers.The State Government controversially offered the water at auction after it was saved through a cap and pipe program partially funded by land owners together with the State and Federal Governments.
The Government argued that some of the water savings from the cap and pipe program were always intended to be re-sold.
However, more than 150 people from areas such as Coonamble, Garah, Mungindi, Walgett and Croppa Creek, turned out in protest against the auction, as well as a number of conservative politicians including Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, Nationals Senator John Williams, Federal Nationals MP Mark Coulton and NSW Nationals Member Kevin Humphries.
The Croppa Creek farmers in attendance were particularly upset at the auction going ahead given they have faced cuts to the irrigation entitlements, without compensation, in order to help recharge water supplies in the Great Artesian Basin.
The NSW Government justified the sale by arguing the funds raised would go towards further bore capping and piping in order to save water for the basin.
However, one source estimated that the $870,000 raised by the sale would only fund the capping and piping of two bores.
The water was sold in 24 lots of 50ML each, with a top price of $50,000 and an average price of $38,000/lot.
The prices equated to $725/ML, which observers stated was cheap in comparison to the market for licenced river water.
Some 12 lots went to the Moree's tourism attraction, the Artesian Spa baths.
The licences were for water from the Surat and Warrego recharge areas within the Great Artesian Basin, which covers much of southern Queensland and northern NSW.
Those two recharge areas have been traditionally regarded as among the most degraded in the entire basin.
President of the GAB Protection Group, Neil Kennedy, "Yuma", Coonamble, said an assurance was given by the NSW Government that there would be no more auctions without a review.
However, many farmers are still calling for Federal Government intervention in the issue.
would like to point out that it's actually AGAINST OUR CONSTITUTION