UNREALISTIC irrigation promises may be the wet blanket issue affecting new State Government plans to rebuild the Mary Valley.

Mary Valley Renewal Team spokeswoman Glenda Pickersgill welcomed yesterday's positive news from Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney.

But she said a proposal to increase irrigation and other water allocations could be a difficult expectation to meet in dry years.

Mr Seeney announced the rebuild plan at Kandanga yesterday.

Rebuilding Mary Valley prosperity would be the first priority under new state government plans for the Valley, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said yesterday.

Mr Seeney said the Government did not ever expect to recover the hundreds of millions of dollars lost on the land buy-up associated with the failed Traveston Crossing dam proposal.

He described the dam as "one of the greatest failures of public administration in Queensland history".

Speaking at Kandanga Railway Station yesterday, Mr Seeney said the government's focus would be on putting together assets which private investors could turn into "viable agricultural units".

These would underpin a return to prosperity, which would also see improved land values for rural residential and urban land.

"Front and centre of our new plan is a resolve to drive the area's economic development, create new jobs, support productive enterprises and create vibrant and stable communities," he said.

He said expressions of interest would be sought from investors and matched to land and water parcels.

"The strategy aims to create conditions to enable private sector investment and development," he said.

"Properties will be aggregated and water rights realigned to create economically viable land units under an initial two-year divestment program."

"Alongside this work, the state will offer assistance and support to ensure this happens quickly.

"This assistance will include aggregation of properties based on their suitability for economic activity and realignment of water entitlements to support new enterprises, briefings to financial institutions and valuers to ensure funding risks to buyers are minimised and an integrated approach to planning."

The Queensland Government did not expect to recover the massive losses incurred in the land buy-up associated with the dam proposal, he said.

Ms Pickersgill was at Kandanga Railway Station yesterday to welcome the announcement, particularly its emphasis on continued consultation with local people.

Mr Seeney said he had appointed Gympie MP David Gibson to establish and be chairman of the vehicle for that consultation, the Mary Valley Economic Development Advisory Group.

"The group will engage with the community and harness local knowledge to assist the implementation of the strategy and to monitor new initiatives," he said.

The government would be open to suggestion from investors able to build viable economic units and would attempt to tie together the land and water assets they would need.

"From that point, there would be a period of time for the rest of the properties to be taken up by market demand."

But he said it was a vital pre-requisite that the government establish "that central agricultural economy".

The government would encourage activities such as beef production, horticulture, dairy and tourism enterprises in the valley.

He said Mr Gibson's advisory group would help connect entrepreneurs with the land and water assets they need to develop agricultural enterprises.

He said a prospectus would be released "within the next couple of weeks" to encourage investment.

"Establishing commercially viable agricultural enterprises is very doable," he said.

"We will remove the bureaucracy that surrounds land sale policies.

"If investors come to us with a well-defined project, I think we can move very fast," he said. "We need to restart the economic basis for the valley.

"This is not about trying to recoup the money the previous government wasted.

"We're never going to do that," he said.

"The Mary Valley is open for business," he said.

Mr Gibson welcomed his new role on the advisory committee.

Mary Valley councillor Julie Walker said she was keen to see land owners and families back in the valley.

Gympie Times

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