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Council

Cherrabah Water Donation

23 January 2020 

Southern Downs Regional Council welcomed the news today that Cherrabah representatives have joined the conversation surrounding their State Government water allocation and responsible management of resources during times of drought. Cherrabah representatives have advised that they will donate water from their water allocation to struggling farmers and those in the grip of this severe and ongoing drought.

Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor, Councillor Tracy Dobie welcomed Cherrabah’s announcement.

“Everyone agrees that getting water to where it’s needed most during this drought is what’s important right now.  Council will work within the rules to help get this water to our residents, but the ball is now in Cherrabah’s court”.

Council’s role will be to consider any new application Cherrabah submits, including an exemption notice under the Planning Act, should Cherrabah request it, for temporary use for the purposes of donating raw water to rural or drought affected residents in the region.

“As a Local Government, we must work within the confines of our planning scheme.  If Cherrabah want to submit a new temporary application and ask for an exemption notice, we will consider it as a Council”.

In response to Premier Palaszczuk’s comments this week that it was not appropriate for water to be taken during a drought, Mayor Dobie said,

“We’ve done our part as a Council with Cherrabah’s original application by working within the legislation.  If the State Government decides to call the application in, that is their decision and their role.  They issue the water licences and any decision made on the original application in that context will be respected by Council”.

In December 2019, Joyful View Garden Real Estate Development Resort Co. Pty Ltd submitted a development application for infrastructure on private land.  Council was duty-bound to consider the application against its Planning Scheme. The scheme, written in 2012, does not allow for officers to take into account extenuating circumstances such as drought or other natural disasters. Officers are only permitted to use the provisions set forth in the scheme to assess applications.

Southern Downs Regional Council works with all applicants objectively based on the parameters set out by the scheme – the only tool that is available to Council.

Amidst a whirlwind of media attention, Southern Downs Regional Council continues to reiterate two important facts. Local Governments throughout the State are not able to issue or revoke water allocations. This responsibility lies with State Government.  Furthermore, Council can only operate within the limitations of the Queensland Planning Legislation.

Southern Downs Regional Council are pleased that Joyful View Garden Real Estate Development Resort Co. Pty Ltd have generously conceded the importance of keeping water within the region during this ongoing drought and wish to emphasise that not one litre of water has left Cherrabah.

Council will also encourage open, respectful, and informed discussion. It must be noted that water management and licensing is not Local Government’s role however every level of government as well as residents and businesses must work together in order to  sustainably manage our life-sustaining resources such as water.

Residents are encouraged to stay up to date with the latest SDRC news by visiting www.sdrc.qld.gov.au/news , by calling 1300 697 372, or by following SDRC social media pages.

**Please note, this article was updated 28 January 2020 to reflect changes to language surrounding Cherrabah's donation of water from their water allocation. 


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