VFF warns Canberra: Don’t send Murray Darling Basin communities down the river

Tuesday 14 February 2017

VICTORIAN irrigators are fuming at reports the federal Opposition is pushing to force a clause into legislation regulating the Murray Darling Basin Plan that would see 450 gigalitres (GL) of water ripped from agriculture and handed to South Australia.

Labor Water Spokesperson Tony Burke yesterday told Parliament the Opposition intended to vote in the Senate to amend the Water Act to ensure the full 3,200GL water recovery measure is met, including the 450GL for South Australia, in a move condemned by the Victorian Farmers Federation as damaging to rural irrigation communities.

The VFF has urged the federal Government
to prioritise recovering the 650GL in environmental “offset” projects set under the Basin Plan’s Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism.

“Rural communities have seen significant impacts through the loss of irrigation water already so it would be ridiculous to go ahead with recovering an extra 450GL of water when these communities are already reeling,” VFF Water Council Chairman Richard Anderson said.

A socio-economic test was introduced to protect adverse impacts on our towns and communities and a study was done last year into the impacts of the Basin plan on Northern Basin communities.

“It was damning – and we expect the Victorian Government’s report into socio-economic impacts on Southern Basin communities will mirror these findings, as well as the findings of various other reports into the issue, when it is released.

“How many more jobs, farms and towns will be lost if the agreement reached to provide some balance in the plan is ignored?”

The VFF has supported the bipartisan approach taken by the Federal and Victorian Governments in standing up for the rights of irrigators and communities in the Southern Basin by calling for socio-economic assessment work to be undertaken.

Mr Anderson said it was vital for the sake of Southern Basin Communities that the Government not deviate from the original Basin Plan.

Media Contacts:

Richard Anderson, VFF Water Council Chairman: 0428 832 210

Ashley Mackinnon, VFF Public Affairs Officer: 0417 165 784