Confirmation of federal government funding for the Scottsdale Irrigation Scheme is expected to dramatically increase farmer take-up of the project.
The $57.30 million infrastructure project was confirmed on Wednesday, after Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack confirmed the federal government would pour $25.27 million into the scheme.
The remainder of the funding comes from $20 million of state government money and $12.03 million raised via water sales to farmers.
Tasmanian Irrigation chairwoman Samantha Hogg said 80 farmers had signed up for the scheme, which represented 75 per cent of its total capacity.
Ms Hogg said the announcement of federal funding would soon lead to more farmers joining the scheme.
She denied the ongoing Legislative Council inquiry into Tasmanian Irrigation had caused excess capacity or affected consumer confidence.
“It has been a little slow, but I think there is strong support,” she said.
“There’s always a juggle between future proofing demand and having it fully sold at the point of construction.
“I think the project sells itself – the concept of water security sells itself.”
The project will ensure 8600 megalitres of water is delivered to farmers in the North-East.
It would also create more than 60 construction jobs, according to Tasmanian Liberal senator Richard Colbeck.
Tasmanian Liberal senator David Bushby said the project would also deliver a mini-hydro power station at South Springfield that would generate 623 kilowatts-hour of energy.
Flanked by Senator Colbeck and Senator Bushby, Mr McCormack said the project was “shovel ready” and would be finished in 18 months time.
“Tasmania is a happening place,” he said.
“Whatever’s grown [in the North-East] is going to be used domestically and it’s going to be used for our exports markets we’ve been able to broker with South Korea, China and Japan.”
Scottsdale farm owner Cameron Moore has signed up three properties to the irrigation scheme.
It will give us a lot more scope to grow veggies...and it’s going to give us opportunities to expand into new markets.Scottsdale farmer Cameron Moore
About 450 megalitres will be delivered through the new irrigation system.
“It will give us a lot more scope to grow veggies...and it’s going to give us opportunities to expand into new markets,” he said.
Labor Bass MHA Ross Hart welcomed the funding, but chastised the federal government for not investing more in Tasmanian infrastructure.
“Since its election, the commonwealth has not commenced one major new infrastructure project in Tasmania,” he said.
Senator Bushby derided Mr Hart’s comments as not factual.
“Including the $732 million contribution for the Mersey Hospital, the federal Liberal government has delivered, or is delivering, well over $1 billion in infrastructure-related spending in Tasmania, since 2016,” he said.
Tasmanian Irrigation has flagged a further five schemes that would deliver more than 65,000 megalitres of water at a cost of $420 million.
The state government has committed to providing $70 million to the projects.
Federal government funding of more than $200 million is also being sought.