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Bold new approach to 'positively' manage water

25 January 2007

“Today the Australian Government ushered in a bold new approach to the way Australia manages its most precious natural resource – water,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie declared.

“In his Australia Day Address, Prime Minister John Howard handed down a landmark partnership blueprint on water management and reform, recognising and building upon the environmental management practices already in place on 92% of Australian farms.

“The $1.5 billion for water use efficiency improvement on-farm will assist farmers in continuing to put in place water saving technologies, with the resulting water savings shared 50/50 with the community or environment.

“That’s a win for water conservation, a win for the continued uptake of more sustainable farming practice and a win for the environment.

“Resource security in water cannot be achieved while over-allocation exists, as a result, NFF will engage with the Government in regard to the $3 billion buy-back foreshadowed by the Prime Minister today.

“Other initiatives flagged today, such as lining or piping of delivery channels and the continuation of the successful bore capping program are real initiatives that will make a tangible difference.

“This new package introduces targeted grants, based on mutual obligation, to assist in the water management component of drought-proofing Australian farms by bolstering effective water management practices, and gearing towards future drought preparedness.

“The NFF strongly endorses the Prime Minister’s investment in Australia’s water measuring and accounting information – a need we identified several years ago and again highlighted last year to underscore the critical lack of accurate, timely and widely available water resource data.

“Farmers across Australia are united in their commitment to effective water reforms to ensure efficient and effective water supply to rural and metropolitan users, alike.

“It is a positive new plan with significant funding support and potentially offers a quantum leap in the way we, as a nation, recognise and manage water.”

The NFF also reaffirmed its support for the National Water Initiative (NWI) as the best way to deliver genuine water reform on-the-ground.

“The NFF supports the full implementation of the NWI, not the piecemeal approach we’ve seen thus far.

“We need to see today’s targeted injection of program-specific funding accelerate implementation of the NWI – sooner rather than later.

“Water is an important issue for all Australians. From the suburbs to the outback we’ve all felt the pinch in our everyday lives and, in the case of farmers, our everyday livelihoods. The drought has also slashed national economic growth, affecting all Australians.

“Today’s package of measures recognises the vital contribution farming makes to the nation – underpinning $103 billion-a-year in production and 1.6 million jobs, half of which are in Australia’s capital cities.

“It also recognises that farmers are part of the solution, already spending $3.3 billion-a-year of their own money on Natural Resource Management (NRM) practices and, as such, are instrumental to achieving real water use and environmental improvements.”

[ENDS]

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