Time to take a deep breath on Basin Plan

Wednesday 23 November 2016

THE Victorian Farmers Federation has urged an end to anti-rural rhetoric that has erupted over a clause in the Murray Darling Basin Plan to recover an additional 450 gigalitres (GL) of water for the environment.

The Plan legislation outlines that this extra water is only available if there are no socio economic impacts on Basin communities.

“Everyone agreed to the 450GL recovery clause at the time the Basin Plan was passed through parliament by the Gillard Labor Government in 2012,” VFF Water Council Chairman Richard Anderson said.

“So let’s be clear; what is currently being debated isn’t an alteration to the Plan. The Federal Government is applying the legislation as it was intended, which is to provide some balance between the environmental needs and damage to rural communities caused by water recovery.”

Mr Anderson said a recent review of the Northern Basin identified considerable social and economic impacts as a result of the Plan, and a review of the Southern Basin would do the same.

“Rural communities have seen significant impacts through the loss of irrigation water already,” he said.

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

“It is hard for us to see how a further 450GL of water could still be recovered – through any means – without causing further damage to our regional communities, which are supported by irrigation farming businesses. 

“Not to mention the capacity constraints of our river systems and additional damage to rural communities through flooding.

“We all know that there are constraints through the river system. In reality, we are looking down the barrel of further floods and damage to both built and environmental assets if a further 450GL of water were pushed down an already choked network.”

The VFF also commended Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville for standing up for the rights of irrigators and communities in the Southern Basin by calling for socio-economic assessment work to be undertaken, allowing them the same opportunity for review that was given to the Northern Basin.

Media Contacts:

Richard Anderson, VFF Water Council Chair: 0428 832 210

Ashley Mackinnon, VFF Public Affairs Officer: 0417 165 784