The Weatherill Labor Government’s decision to raid the Water Levy Funds paid by Adelaide Hill’s food producers to pay for the Environment Department and upgrades to the Patawalonga is outrageous, according to Member for Bragg Vickie Chapman.
Late last year, the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board (AMLR-NRM Board) advised all licenced water holders in the western Mt Lofty Ranges that they would have to pay a water levy.
Initially this was introduced to “ensure fair, long term access to farmers, irrigators and industry”.
“However, many growers were shocked to receive their bills last month ranging from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars,” said Ms Chapman.
“The levy applies even though growers bought their properties at values based on that they had access to the water, paid for the infrastructure including dams to collect the water, paid for the meters now required to be installed and have to photograph the meters and provide the information on which the bill is issued.”
This year’s Budget revealed that water planning and management costs of the Department of Environment would be recovered from NRM boards and that the Patawalonga lakes system and Glenelg gates costs of operating and maintenance would be recovered from the AMLR-NRM board.
“On enquiry with the AMLR-NRM as to whether they had approved these payments coming out of their budget, Presiding Prof Chris Daniels advised these payments were imposed by Ministerial Direction,” said Ms Chapman.
“My local constituents have been forced to pay a water levy and now find that the Treasurer has raided the fund to prop-up infrastructure in Glenelg that has nothing to do with natural resources.
“Consultation with the local community has been ignored over the last 10 years.
“Now the levy is being used to pay for the Government’s mismanagement and infrastructure costs – my constituents are outraged.”