Robbie Katter is concerned that "cashed-up conglomerates" could out-bid local projects to win access to 110,000 ml of unallocated water being released from the Flinders River.
He called for projects that produced the biggest regional development outcome to be prioritised over highest-price-wins tendering.
Mr Katter, Katter's Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP, said based on the Flinders River Catchment Unallocated Water Release terms of sale, published on November 30th, the state government had been clear price would be the determining factor in deciding who would win water access through the competitive tender process.
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Bidders will include the community-driven Hughenden Irrigation Project (HIPCO), which would support 7,500 ha of new agricultural irrigation enterprises and has already been awarded $180 million in Federal funding.
"The gravity of this situation, and what a rejected bid could mean for the already-funded HIPCO project, requires a direct response from the Premier, the Minister for Water and Minister for State Development on where they desire the benefits from water development on the Flinders River to go," Mr Katter said.
"There is only 110,000ML remaining unallocated and this asset is being hotly-contested on the Flinders, which has an average annual flow of 3.8 million megalitres.
"The tender process as it stands allows the highest compliant bidder to 'take the lot' with zero guarantee of outcomes for the people in the region; surely the process should prioritise the projects that produce the biggest regional development outcomes."
Mr Katter said bids should firstly be considered in light of their "demonstrated regional benefit" as opposed to the price applicants were prepared to pay for water.
He said water resources in the regions, including those that flow annually through the Flinders, were rationed to "extreme levels".
"This release will be the last, totalling around 300,000ML only for the entire system which in itself is laughable," Mr Katter said.
"This represents less than one per cent of the of the average annual flow - even the environmentalists agree to let you take up to 30 per cent of the flow out of a river before you're considered to damage it.
"Now the last of the measly amount that Brisbane politicians are allowing us to take out of this massive system could be dominated by big southern farmers and corporates with deeper pockets - we could see the Government culpable in just making rich people richer.
"Outside of cheap words, there is no real pressure on the purchaser of this water to develop the region economically or socially."
Mr Katter said a government-endorsed process that discriminated in favour of the larger, wealthier operators was much less likely to deliver economic benefit to the local towns.
"The HIPCO scheme at Hughenden is designed to make farming accessible to established people in the region, however other larger operators could take all the water for their own, single benefit," he said.
"Whilst the Water Minister is responsible for this release, the impact transcends the bounds of this portfolio - the Premier and the State Development Minister are also answerable on this key issue of development that is of critical importance to North Queensland.
"The release of this water may well be the tell-tale sign that Labor would much prefer to deliver wealth to the big end of town rather than help the battlers on the ground.
"I very much looking forward to them proving to me wrong."
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