The release of the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council Communiqué three days after the meeting took
place shows a high level of disagreement between the Basin States and Commonwealth Governments.
“It is highly unusual for a communiqué to take so long. It appears the States and Commonwealth are unable
to agree on how to implement the next steps of the Basin Plan and what the consequences will be,” said Mr
Richard Anderson, Chairman of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Water Council.
“Last week, the Commonwealth announced funding for the 450 gigalitre (GL) water recovery. Yet we are not
even sure the current amount of water recovered for the environment can actually be delivered down the
“The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has always said that the Basin Plan is adaptive. It’s time we see
real adaptation from the MDBA rather than the continued assertion their modelling from 2012, seven years
ago, is still accurate today.
“The States discussed deliverability concerns and agreed to establish an independent expert panel to review
the ability of the MDBA to deliver water below the Barmah Choke. However, more urgent action is needed.
The other Basin States must follow Victoria’s leadership and call in new or expanded water licences until the
deliverability review has been completed.
“It is very disappointing that South Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory refused to
support updating the modelling needed to confirm the practical flow targets for the constraints projects.
“The expert panel review and updating modelling should go hand-in-hand. It makes no sense to continue
with constraints projects if we cannot deliver the water we have currently recovered, let alone the water still
to be recovered.
“The constraints projects are estimated to deliver 100 to 180 GL towards the Basin Plan’s 2,750 GL recovery
target. Yet, carrying out these projects would require more than 3,000 private landholders to agree to their
land being flooded and the creation of easements.
“The Northern Basin must also do better. The Communiqué provided no real progress in addressing the
serious over development in the Darling system.
“It is also extremely disappointing that the Communiqué said nothing about the Productivity Commission’s
most important recommendation; that the timeframes for the 605 GL Sustainable Diversion Limit
Adjustment Mechanism be extended.
“The Productivity Commission described existing timeframes as ‘highly ambitious, if not unrealistic’ in
December 2018. To restore confidence, irrigators needed to hear that the Basin States are committed to
taking the time to get the projects right. This has been entirely ignored.
“While the Ministerial Council agreed to create an Inspector General for the Basin, this ultimately
undermines the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to split up the MDBA.
“It is not surprising that irrigators and governments have no confidence in the MDBA, as seen in the
Council’s decision to set up an independent deliverability panel.
“The lack of real agreement about Basin Plan implementation and the incompetence of the MDBA continues
to undermine the confidence of irrigation communities, drive away investment, and costs regional jobs.
Enough is enough,” said Mr Anderson.
Richard Anderson, VFF Water Council Chair, 0428 832 210
Heather Smillie, VFF Stakeholder, Media & Communications Officer, 0400 874 589
About the VFF
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) is dedicated to representing the interests of farmers and making a
positive difference to their businesses and communities. We strive to create an environment for our
members, our farmers, that enables profitable, safe, sustainable production to ensure an enduring social
licence in a community that respects and values the sector.