By Jonathan Pavetto, Consultant
The recent release of the Water Infrastructure Options Paper confirms the Federal Government’s commitment to expanding agricultural production, as flagged in the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper and the Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia. This is good news for the agricultural sector and good news for regional Australia. Building more dams and expanding irrigation schemes is firmly on the agenda, with the issue receiving special mention in the Prime Minister’s inaugural Infrastructure Statement to the House of Representatives.
In the Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia, the Federal Government flags the idea of a “Water Project Development Fund” for northern Australia. This fund would be used in invest in water storage and irrigation projects that have a suitable business case with a focus on positive economic, social and environmental outcomes. The fund would provide capital contributions from the Federal Government, in conjunction with the states and industry. Irrigators would be required to meet ongoing costs.
Water and natural resource management is one of nine priority policy areas in the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper. Identifying and building more dams and water storage and distribution infrastructure is a key part of the priority policy area within the Green Paper, which is to be informed by a Water Infrastructure Ministerial Working Group, chaired by the Minister for Agriculture.
The Water Infrastructure Options Paper builds on the water infrastructure policy objectives outlined in the Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia and the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper. The Options Paper is to detail the role of the Federal Government in water infrastructure development, potential projects for possible commonwealth development, as well as options to accelerate development. Amongst the options considered to accelerate development include:
- funding for evaluating demand for proposals;
- undertaking detailed cost benefit analysis;
- support for gaining relevant approvals; and
- financing capital for construction.
The SAS Group can help
This is a once in a generation opportunity for expansion of irrigated agriculture, right across Australia. With the increased focus on water infrastructure development, there will be increased competition for scarce public resources. There are many different potential projects, with very limited public resources available.
The SAS Group can help your industry and your particular business effectively engage with the Federal Government to maximize the economic opportunities presented in the Federal Government’s fresh approach to dam and irrigation infrastructure development. For more information, contact Jonathan Pavetto at the SAS Group