The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) has today asked both major parties and all candidates at the upcoming Federal Election to put aside partisan fighting over the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and water policy.
NIC Chief Executive Officer Isaac Jeffrey said: “NIC wants to see the Basin Plan completed and I’m happy to say we are nearly there. Over eighty percent of the Plan has been delivered, a fact that should be celebrated, along with the collaborative partnerships which have been established between the productive sector, the environment and local communities.
“Significant progress has been made since implementation of the Plan and on achieving its goals. While the rough and tumble of election campaigns is understood, it is critical however that both major parties and candidates put aside politics and not risk a restart of the water wars. Water is too important to become a political football.
“The focus must remain on working together to ensure food and fibre production continues, providing regional jobs and thriving local communities, and healthy river systems are able to flourish. As we face a hotter and drier climate with more extreme weather events into the future, a bipartisan approach is needed, focused on outcomes across the whole system for food and fibre producers, the environment and communities.
“The Basin is a connected system and the Plan delivers outcomes for all States. The 450 GL efficiency measures program is not solely to deliver more water for South Australia, but to achieve outcomes across the whole system. There is still time to get on and complete more projects under the 450GL, but they must stay true to the promise of the Plan to deliver neutral or positive socio-economic benefits to local communities.
“Basin Ministers have agreed to the neutrality test because they understand the impact ripping more water out of local communities would have on their states.
“Local communities have signed up in good faith to make sure the Plan is a success and that fact must be respected by not inflicting new damage on communities through buybacks.
A move to buybacks would not only hurt local communities, but would put businesses and jobs at risk, while purchasing those rights would have a multi-billion dollar impact on the Budget.
“NIC calls for a greater focus on the outcomes of water as opposed to the inflexible instrument of volumes. Just adding water is not the only solution to achieving environmental improvement.
There are smarter ways for all stakeholders to work together, which is now occurring in communities across the Basin where irrigators are working with environmental water holders to deliver the right outcomes.
“Let’s get people into a room to discuss how we can finalise the Basin Plan and deliver real outcomes which is surely the primary purpose of the Plan. Water for water’s sake won’t get us there and won’t ensure the Plan achieves the triple bottom line outcomes local communities were promised.”
National Irrigators Council - 20 April 2022