Commonwealth must come clean on new Basin Plan outcomes

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) says answers are needed over where the Commonwealth
Government is intending to take water from and for what purpose following changes the Murray
Darling Basin Plan.

VFF President Emma Germano has written to Commonwealth Water Minister Tanya Plibersek and
is concerned the unclear, scatter-gun approach to environmental water buybacks will not
work and that Victoria will once again unfairly be burdened with excessive water buybacks.

“The VFF is very concerned about the implications of the Bill for Victoria. Removal of the buyback
cap and bypassing the socio-economic test highlights a Federal Government with little interest in
those that will be impacted.”

“The VFF is deeply concerned about the Commonwealth’s omission in setting any valley targets for
water recovery and there being no identification of any environmental outcomes which they seek to

“Recovering water downstream here in Victoria and thinking it’ll benefit areas such as the Darling River and Menindee Lakes is complete fantasy.”

“We are seeking clarification from the Commonwealth as to what valley targets will be established
across the Northern and Southern Basins as well as identifying related environmental outcomes to
give farmers and rural communities some understanding of what amount of water is being targeted
and for which area.”

“It is not unreasonable for impacted regional communities to have some insight into the volumes of
water the Commonwealth is seeking to recover and the environmental outcomes that will be
achieved by these water recoveries.”

“The VFF is also seeking Minister Plibersek’s assurance that socio-economic impact assessments
will clearly identify impacts at a local community level and that compensation measures are sustained and appropriately targeted. Socio-economic analysis must also be peer reviewed and
made publicly available.”

Ms Germano said request to the Minister came ahead of two regional meetings led by Victorian
Water Minister Harriet Shing at Shepparton which were attended by Ms Germano and VFF Water
Council Chair Andrew Leahy.

“We are encouraged by the Victorian Water Minister making the effort to visit the farming communities that will be hit hard by these changes.”

“Minister Shing has a strong grasp of the issues and remains opposed to water buybacks and is
focussed on achieving the outcomes that the state governments originally agreed to when the Basin
Plan was created.”

“To date, Minister Plibersek has refused to visit the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District and listen to
impacted communities.”
“It is critical that she does this to ensure any implementation of the new laws takes into account the
impact on the Victorian environment and communities which are being totally ignored at the
moment,” Ms Germano said.