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No balance in Basin Plan, say peak agricultural groups

28 November 2011

Peak agricultural industry groups from across the Murray-Darling Basin believe that the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan, released this morning by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, has failed to achieve the promised balance between social, economic and environmental impacts.

The collective industry bodies, including the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), National Irrigators Council, AgForce Queensland, Queensland Farmers’ Federation, NSW Irrigators Council, NSW Farmers Association, Victorian Farmers’ Federation, Australian Dairy Farmers, Cotton Australia and the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia, represented by NFF Chief Executive Officer Matt Linnegar, say the result is disappointing.

“For nearly a decade we’ve been promised balance between social, economic and environmental impacts,” Mr Linnegar said.

“The Guide last year did not deliver that balance – and now, after another twelve months, the draft has also failed to live up to promises made.

“It is very disappointing for industry groups across the Murray-Darling Basin that our concerns about the Plan have not been taken into account. For the communities, the family farms and the local businesses across the Basin, the result is more than disappointing – their very futures are on the line.

“We have said, and said consistently, that the Basin Plan needs to be about outcomes, not numbers.

“The 2,750 gigalitres contained in the Plan, plus the water historically set aside for the environment, means the environment has a significant amount of water at its disposal. The impact of this will be job losses, closure of family farms, hardships for regional communities and increases in fresh food prices.

“This should be about outcomes: about achieving a healthy environment, vibrant communities and prosperous regional economies. All three of these outcomes are equally essential, and the Plan must not achieve environmental outcomes at the expense of the economic and social outcomes.

“It’s up to Minister Burke to intervene to deliver a balanced Plan,” Mr Linnegar said.

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