The Water Tax.
Throughout the years that the pre- sent Government hus held away In this Utate tlicre bavo been many Uttt« pin pricks indicted upon the primary pro ducer and the latest Is the water tax.
According to press reports uie farmers In Uie tower Burdekln district where sugar cane cannot be raised without the aid of Irrigation will be bard hit unlesB the present Government exempts their area trom the opera tion or this iniquitous measure. One need not be an aged man to remem ber the time, not so many years ago, when the present Government Uien In opposition deplored the loan money that was being expended In developing tue country, und unless my memory, falls me It was Mr E. G. Theodore who wrote a uamphlet entitled 'The Tragedy of Loans,' and Inter alia stated, that when the Labor Party would occupy the Treasury benches, that there would bo no necessity to go to London borrowing as It was their intention to make the revenue run the country. Alas these castles In the air have long since tottered and fallen. The public debt has been practicably doubled and the country is In a worse state than ever before, Industry Is paralysed on account of the Impos sibility of many Industries being able to etnnd the ever Increasing awards and other hostile legislation which has beon enacted. The primary producer has Indeed been bsrd hit (Waa It not the present Premier who when Mlnl rter for Lands Bald that he 'deserved u he hit?') Now, the very latest that the Oov eminent, which poses as the friend ot the roan, oa the land, has brought about Is the tax whereby users ot *ater will have to pay heavy taxea for the privilege of taking the water Jrom under their freehold selections. According to the Press reports of the meeting ot farmers beld last week '' Ayr there was as unanimous deter mination not to be any further bled by the powers that be, snd some of the .growers present stated they would ?sooner co to gaol than pay the Im position. The report does not state that the mooting; broke up to Uie strains of 'Solidarity for Ever' but though the music may have been ab sent the spirit was indeed there. Fanner* on the Burdekln Delta ore In Uie peculiar position of being Uie only rime growers in Queensland where the ' Irrigation of a crop is a 'sine qua 1 non ' These tortile lands without Irrl I gatlon would be merely the breeding grounds for n. few cattle ticks instead nf as they ore to-day the bread and butter of a population of anything Jrom 7.000 to 10,000 soult. 1 Growers In more fortunate districts where Uie natural ralntall Is sufficient to raise the crop must remember that the costs of Irrigation per ton of cane ' run Into between 10/- and 15/- —a conservative estimate. For many years growers in this sreo. have by dint of food cultivation and the selection of canes of the better sugar content as well as the limitation ot Uie costs of production In other ways Bave been able to curry on and are responsible for the population that the Lower ' Burdekin carries to-day. Now they are beliiK informed that It will be neces sary for »hem to pay a yearly tax ranging up to £80 per annum for the ' lirivlien of uslne the underground
i -water supply. Queensland enjoys the fact that there is such a body as an Irrigation Com | mission which ha» unheard of powers 1 and which like several other Goveni , ment Departments Is often In the lime light so far as Inefficiency Is concar nod. In the «nmc district Is the Inkcr mun tcrleatlon Scheme on which no ' less a sum than £171,000 has already I been written off. Since the Inception of this State venture there has been much dissatisfaction from the growerb I dependent upon It for their Irrigation water supply. Before mo as I write Is a copy ot remarks tnado by the Audltor Genoral as far back as the year ended June 30Ul, 1923. Even thouffh Olcne may be old. there Is certain Interest as It is possible that the present taxation fmnos«! may be a means of coverlna up some of the Inefficient methods ot this Department. The Auditor General slated 'The area included !„ the scheme is 26.800 acres, of which It la Mltmated that 1S.O0B acres Is cultiv able land.' Commenting on the wells suntc the Auditor General pointed out that there was a total of 116 wells Mtm-V uVGtiU' of wjicli number SC had liccn huecPFRlul anil 34 failures. The |! total cost lo that date was £83n.000. [ I. irliilst the first estimate wns but £1S1. I 1 000. The nbove figures mny not appear 1 1 Vi have nn.y special bcavlnR on the pre 1 s«nt w/lter tnx but nevertheless they' I ,' bo to prove that n jlepartmerit where 1 such losses have been mnne must In ! o-!-d b« desperate lo derive revenue, I and consequently the Ui, as Is now |(lmpoScd. One must congratulate these Bur- dekin growers for their determination to refuse to pay the tax should the Ir- rigation Commissioner persist in his charges. Whilst the wilier Is always I opposed to direct action It must be | remembered that the circumstances of B the preKcnt cose arc exceptional, and | the growers at the very limit of their ? patience and tolerance, arc driven to ? It. Consider tl» consequences If the 1 growers ore forced lo t'tke a deter 2 mined stand on the mutter anil refuse bto tnke out a license. Thn-o Is no » floubt but thnt the matter will result ! In muoh ltlltrntlnn nnd whilst tho ? crmvers nrr attending to thin matter, ? ' forms under their control cnvmot pros ? par iin fC there were no untnnnrd hap ?. penlnc ARaln the workers will suffer ?: Jind nround these tn«ns where It Is ne ? 'resanrj to irrlRale (lie crnns tlielo are - their own homes. lin\ windmills In ? (Itcir ynrdu. and these Bleo will come ? ??nnder'thr- trulllotlnc. ?*' Whot enn the ? member' for the Loner Burdekln dls sl (rlct, M»«r« Bruce, Danh and Collins, B hnve been thlnldnc ot when they per il nMU-yl sucli ICRlnlntlon tn X'im irltliout ? cntertne a word of protest. Surely S tliny,J«r«F«'not eambji. their, pclncjly
men who yut them la their present positions. Bcsldc-s the cane gravers there arc many others who will suffer it the new regulations, are carried Into ef fect, viz many pastora lists who ut the present Juncture cub III afford to have such impositions placed upon them. They have just come through tlm recent drought, in fact there are eumo districts \vh£re the relief from the recent rains has not been, felt to any extent and UiAse have a» lo Slice this latest piece ul legi»l.w»iyn icuu: cal to their Interests: There lias been eo much taxation of recent years that the Government ivll! soon have great dlBlculty hi Undine anything left to tax. m tad
Uie water tax suggests that the Government must be ot Uie end of ihoir tether. Jt Is Indeed a very difficult matter lo determine what the tux paid by tho average Individual i-eally amounts to. To era are roan/ who arc ot'the opinion that because they do not. receive a yearly letter from Mr. Wacee that they are not paying taxes, but such an Idea U a fallacy. We are all paying taxes In the very food we eat. the clothes we wear, the tobacco we smoke, and the beverages we drink. Where taxes are Imposed on secondary Industries the ones who directly pay Uio lax llavo somo chance In recovering It \-y way of Increasing their prices, uml ua&stng It on to tho consumer. 1« t for the poor primary prudnccr there is no avenue of escape and he must perforce grin and bear It. As pointed out In the leader In the T.D 'Bulletin' ot April Uth., 11)21, It nppeors that the lax hus btou Uu l-obcd to bring' tho farmers on U.c Northern side of the Burdektn on i»o same level as tbelr unfortunate con freres who are water ratepayers In the Inkcrrnan Irrigation Bchcme. It lius been truly sold that the irriga tion Scheme at Home Hill is an In cubus around tho necks ot Uie un fortunate urowers In that area, uuti It Is qulto pn the cards that the Oov ornment will soon do tho sam« wltli this 'White Elephant' as has been done with Mount Bauple, Gin Gin, and North Eton sugar mills which could not be run to pay and tna whole burden banded over to the un fortunate growers who are clasped within Uie tentacles ot the Irrigation Commission octupus. It would bo a revelation to learn how much it actually costs some of tiie ??patrons' of the State scheme tor the 'aa.ua. Tbtodore,' which they use to trow a crop, £5 per acre per annum is charged, bot there It no guaramoe thut there will be any degree ot an adequate supply. Only recently U:e (jruwers In Uie Inkerruan orcu were udvleed that It may only be ^loiwlblf to allow them to water for B days per week thus reducing the efficiency ot the scheme by 17 per cent. In tho /nkerman urea there are some larm ers who hnvo their own private pkinle and these generally give greater satisfaction than tho State pumps. It Is nothing uncommon for the larmers to be days without wator snd there Is absolutely no redresB. As the motho* of payment is un a flat rate, there are a, Cew farmers who aro certainly on a f*lr wicket, but their loss fortunate brothera have to carry these on tbelr backs, a* the man with a, poor «upply has to pay for the man with a good supply. For turning a dry waste.'' Jnto one ot the *nosl productive Slstrlcta tn Australia, the taooanf of Uie Lower