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Water cuts to cost jobs & leave regional Australia vacant

5 August 2010

INDEPENDENT analysis released today by Judith Stubbs and Associates shows cuts to water entitlements in the Murray-Darling Basin will potentially lead to massive job losses and, subsequently, decimate regional communities.

“It is ironic that while politicians talk about over population in our cities looming cuts in the Murray-Darling Basin could foreshadow the biggest depopulation of regional areas in Australia’s history,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie said.

“The Murray-Darling Basin Plan, shelved during the federal election campaign, is crucial for regional jobs, families, businesses and entire communities. Today’s Social and Economic Impacts of Reduced Irrigation Water report indicates widespread job losses, business closures and social dislocation will follow any significant cuts to water availability for irrigation.

“This issue affects all Australians, not just agriculture in the Basin. In a region that produces 40% of all food in this country the flow-on effects for food scarcity and higher prices at the checkout are self-evident.

“It demonstrates why throughout the entire consultation process in developing the Basin Plan we’ve insisted the Government ensure balance in the new Basin Plan, carefully calibrating agricultural, environmental and local community needs.

“The findings in this report will fuel already heightened concerns among Basin communities about the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s delay in releasing the preliminary information on the draft Basin Plan.

“In trying to fix an environmental problem the Government must beware of creating an economic and social disaster. Farmers and our communities rely on healthy rives systems, hence, our expressed desire to balance all needs in the Basin.

“Whoever wins government 16 days from now must understand that a blinkered approach that cuts water for irrigation without consideration of the economic and social impacts is irresponsible.

“Political parties in this election campaign must prove to us that they have water policies that guarantee a vibrant and sustainable irrigation sector and strong communities in our nation’s largest food bowl.”

[ENDS]

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