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“Riddled with holes”, NFF declares the Basin Guide “dead” – but charts a new way forward

17 December 2010

A DETAILED 90-page post-mortem on the Guide to the Basin Plan, released by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) today, exposes multiple flaws in the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s assumptions, methodologies and draft proposals.

“Not only have we identified fatal defects in the Guide, but we have launched a new blueprint for salvaging the reform agenda,” NFF President Jock Laurie declared. “Today we’ve handed solutions to the MDBA and Government that farmers and communities will accept. It maps out a sensible way forward.

“The Guide in its current form cannot be revived and there is no prospect of it being a workable basis for the eventual Basin Plan. The Government and the MDBA now have no choice but to throw out the Guide and start again.

“The MDBA has not prioritised key environmental assets or specified their water needs.

“Regional communities, as well as the broader community, have passed judgment on the Guide. Beyond failing the environmental issues, the Guide also fails to support regional communities and Australia’s vital agricultural base.

“Regional communities do not, and will not, accept this Guide or any Basin Plan that this Guide underpins. Full stop. It’s dead.

“That doesn’t mean that reform in the Basin is dead... far from it. The NFF and its members have led water reform for over a decade. It is essential that Australia build on the world-leading water efficiency our farmers are renowned for, driving productivity and sustainability. The two are not mutually exclusive.

“Our forensic response to the Guide, lodged with the MDBA today (attached below), creates a new canvass for a feasible Basin Plan, outlining a straight-forward, logical process that must be followed to get the health of the Basin, its communities and farm production back on track.

“While our submission deals with the MDBA’s mandate, the government has an obligation for infrastructure investment, both on-farm and off-farm irrigation systems, as well as environmental infrastructure and to fund research and development, to ensure farmers have the ability to continue to adapt to any new regime.

“Farmers and regional communities expect the government to make good on its ‘triple bottom line’ pledge – that is, ensuring economic, social and environmental interests in the Basin are equally addressed.

“Australian farmers and the two million people that call the Basin home, not to mention the millions of Australians that rely on the Basin, will accept nothing less. It’s up to the government to clearly explain how this will be delivered.”

[ENDS]

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