Commonwealth water buyback plan forces difficult conversations

Media Releases » Commonwealth water buyback plan forces difficult conversations

Communities in northern Victoria are being forced to have difficult conversations in the face of the Albanese government’s plan to buyback more water under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Water Council Chair Andrew Leahy said the Victorian government paper released today, ‘Planning our Basin future together’, is an important step to help communities plan for a future of producing less food if water buybacks occur.

“The VFF continues to oppose the Albanese government’s plan to take more water from our farming communities. Until the situation in Canberra changes, we must be prepared for all possible outcomes. The Victorian government is showing leadership in starting the conversation across our communities.”

“In a situation where we can’t stop the Commonwealth entering the market, we must look for options with the least impact on communities and agriculture. The release of this document is the first step, now comes the hard part of working with local communities to find local solutions that protect our farmers and communities,” Mr Leahy said.

Mr Leahy added the Victorian government was helping deliver some answers to northern Victorian communities in the face of a lack of details coming from Canberra.

“The unknown is how and when the Commonwealth will recover the 450GL and how much will come from Victoria. The VFF has repeatedly asked the Commonwealth for this information. Tanya Plibersek and her department have refused to respond or simply have no idea.”

“They are not even prepared to talk in any practical way about the environmental improvements they expect to deliver. It seems to be a case of lets just see how much water we can find, and we’ll worry about the consequences later. This Commonwealth approach is totally unacceptable.”

“The paper points out the impact of water purchases under low, medium and high scenarios. A low scenario could see somewhere between 8- 55GL purchased across the nine catchments, 55-120GL under a medium scenario and more than 120GL in a high scenario.”

“Significant Commonwealth purchases of water from irrigators will force channels to be closed down and large numbers of farms to be dried off. Irrigators can expect a 15 per cent increase in water charges if 100GL is purchased and delivery shares are terminated.”

“The Victorian government states that any purchase must be matched with ‘sensible transition support.’ We really need to understand what ‘sensible transition support’ means, because the Commonwealth is also rolling out lines about structural adjustment. We need to ensure that jobs and people are protected”.

“The government’s work highlights what we all know, buybacks devastate communities and food production. We must ensure the Commonwealth works with Victoria to ensure other projects are explored first before buybacks commence,” Mr Leahy said.