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$650M for water savings in regional NSW good news for all

19 June 2009

TODAY’S announcement of the Federal Government’s $650 million investment in water infrastructure in NSW is an important kick-along for the state’s farmers, irrigators, regional communities and the environment, according to the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

“The NFF has insisted the Federal Government improve the balance between water buy-backs and infrastructure upgrades under its water plan,” NFF President David Crombie said. “The preeminent focus on water buy-backs had seen farmers support for water reform in Australia seriously undermined.

“Today’s announcement starts to get the balance back into some semblance of equilibrium. It gives farmers some confidence to invest in water-saving measures on-farm and across regions.

“Today’s funding commitment comes on the back of the $300 million for on-farm water efficiency programs under the May Federal Budget – a program the NFF pressed hard for.

“Combined, this type of investment provides irrigators and their communities with a choice between selling back their water entitlements or co-investing with government in water-saving technologies on farm – or, indeed, a combination of both.

“To date, irrigators have only really had the sale of their water as a sole option.

“It is also recognition of the role regional Australia plays in underpinning agricultural production, which, in turn, is keeping the Australian economy afloat. It’s good news for producers, good news for environmental needs, supports regional communities by stimulating local employment and keeps farm production and the national economy ticking over.

“This level of collaboration, which we have long argued is over-due in how Australian deals with drought and a changing climate, will enable farmers to produce more food and fibre with less water. This is a vital food security issue, both here at home and globally, in the face of a deepening world food shortage.

“The funds announced today will implement modernisation plans developed by a number of infrastructure operators in NSW. The NFF hopes to see the remaining state priority projects, still awaiting the go ahead across the Murray-Darling Basin, triggered in the very near future.”

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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