KATTER Australia Party leader Bob Katter, whose electorate of Kennedy represents a large footprint of north western Queensland cattle country, says the Federal Government should grant irrigation rights to landowners in the Gulf region to ensure the future of the live cattle export trade.
After holding discussions with live cattle exporters, northern cattle producers and representatives of the Carpentaria Shire Council and the Karumba Progress Association, Mr Katter said he is in no doubt that granting Gulf landholders access to irrigation would deliver billions of dollars worth of benefits to the Australian economy.
“There need to be a few dozen 1300 hectare block irrigation grants,” Mr Katter said.
“The existing cattle industry and the development of Karumba as a port cannot be sacrificed to some corporate adventures that may simply starve the area of water.
“Cape York Peninsula has 150,000 head of cattle, it is the same size as Victoria and has nearly three times the rainfall, yet Victoria has nearly 4.5 million head of cattle.
“If they allow us the minute amount of irrigation blocks that we require – we’re talking about 0.1 % of the water and 0.001% of the land – the benefit to the Australian economy is $7000 million a year.”
Mr Katter said the region contained three of the six biggest rivers in Australia – the Mitchell, Flinders and Gilbert Rivers – and the Coleman River was not far behind.
“The coming of irrigation onto Australia’s biggest and mightiest rivers is long overdue,” he said.
“We as a nation have got to assert ourselves and internationalist rubbish has got to be put in perspective.
“This will provide much needed jobs for our First Australians.
“Karumba which is now exporting 15,000 head of cattle per year should be exporting 300,000 head of cattle per year.
“It is an insanity to cart cattle from the Gulf, Cape York and even Mid-West back to Townsville and the present insanity of bringing fodder the 700 or 800km from Atherton or Clermont to Karumba is almost ridiculous.
“If we want to be internationally competitive, we have to put in place processes that will provide for efficiencies.
“Where the Indonesians are paying $4.00 a kilo; but the cattleman gets $1.50 a kilo; then inefficiencies are mopping up $2.50 a kilo. One can start to see the disastrous nature of the inefficiencies of this industry.
“But all the more credit to the people that have been the pioneers of this wonderful industry which provides cheap, accessible, wet product to the very poor people of Indonesia.
“We need to build on this industry as what Australia does very well is produce cattle, if only they will provide us with the small amount of irrigation blocks that we require.”
Source: Bob Katter