Petition opposes water licence cuts for north Wanneroo farmers

 North Wanneroo Residents Association chairman Mark Zagar and WA Liberal Democrats Leader Aaron Stonehouse.  Picture supplied
North Wanneroo Residents Association chairman Mark Zagar and WA Liberal Democrats Leader Aaron Stonehouse. Picture supplied

A PETITION opposing water licence allocation cuts for farmers and rural landowners in north Wanneroo has been tabled in State Parliament.

WA Liberal Democrats Leader Aaron Stonehouse tabled the 1088-signature petition in the Legislative Council on December 3 on behalf of the North Wanneroo Residents Association.

Petitioners opposed any reduction in water licence allocations for farmers and landowners in the area, which includes Neerabup, Nowergup and Carabooda.

They said it would result in “economic hardship, devaluation of our properties and businesses and the economic decline of our region”.

Earlier this year, the State Government announced plans to cut water licence allocations by 10 per cent rather than the 25 per cent proposed by the previous government, and bring that into effect from 2028.

Wanneroo MLA Sabine Winton, who chaired the North Wanneroo Agriculture and Water Taskforce, said the State Government was aware that the Gnangara Groundwater system supported industry and primary food production.

“To ensure these industries can continue to support our community and local economy, the McGowan Government is working on alternative water supply options for these industries,” she said.

The petition asked the Upper House to consider solutions such as consolidation of water licences and implementing the Water Resources Management Act in line with the National Water Initiative.

It also asked that an agricultural precinct be created east of the Carabooda-Nowergup Valley, including in cleared pine forest land, to provide large landholdings and secure water supplies for food production.

“The solution to a water crisis caused by climate change is not to make arbitrary cuts to water allowances, but rather to provide people with a greater degree of control over their land, and their water entitlements, so that they can manage both of them more effectively,” Mr Stonehouse said.

“That means allowing growers to hold water licences in perpetuity, and to trade water allowances with one another, rather than having to first gain ministerial approval.

“It also means allowing growers to sub-divide their properties, and switch from farming to horticulture if one line of business isn’t working out.”

Ms Winton said the taskforce committed to developing a business case for a new agri-precinct using recycled water and water efficiency programs for growers.

“Cabinet has approved drafting of the Water Resources Management Bill,” she said.

The Nowergup resident said she had spoken to many growers who, whilst “not happy with any reduction” in water allocations, had indicated they had the capacity to cover the 10 per cent cut over the next nine years.