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Farmers call for focus on MDB during world rivers day

24 September 2011

With World Rivers Day rapidly approaching, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is urging the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to consider health of the river, local farmers and dependent communities in making their final decisions regarding the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“This Sunday marks World Rivers Day, a day dedicated to recognising the important role our river systems play,” NFF President and chair of the NFF Water Committee, Jock Laurie, said.

“The Murray-Darling Basin incorporates Australia’s three longest rivers – the Murray, the Darling and the Murrumbidgee - and accounts for 85 percent of all irrigated agricultural produce in Australia.

“The agricultural industry within the Basin contributes some $9 billion to the Australian economy every year, and the river provides water for three million Australians.

“This is why it’s incredibly important that the Plan gets the balance right. The health of this river doesn’t just impact the environment, but also those who depend on the river system for food production, their livelihoods and their local communities. It’s a nervous wait for the residents of vulnerable, irrigation-dependent towns within the Basin, with the MDBA yet to release full details of the pending Plan.

“Although the final Draft Plan details are yet to be released, we understand that the Plan will include a figure around the 2,800 gigalitre mark and that there will be opportunity over the next decade to reduce this figure within catchments. While this would be a welcome improvement on the Guide to the Basin Plan, substantial impacts could still be felt by a range of communities.

“In his final deliberations with the MDBA, we urge chair Craig Knowles to consider the environment and people as equal in the long term interest of the Murray-Darling Basin.

“The future health of agricultural production and our regional communities in the Basin depend on it,” Mr Laurie said.

The MDBA is expected to release the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in mid-November. World Rivers Day is taking place tomorrow, Sunday 25 September.

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Media Enquiries: Ruth Redfern on 02 6269 5666, 0408 448 250 or .

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