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Farmers, and now Ministers, call for Basin Plan balance

10 July 2012

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has supported the call from the State and Federal water Ministers for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to do more to achieve balance in the proposed Basin Plan before it is tabled in Parliament.

The Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council, comprised of the Federal, QLD, NSW, SA, ACT and VIC water ministers, told the Authority last night that more needs to be done to balance the needs of food producers and the communities that rely on them in the Plan.

“This is very positive news for the NFF, our members, the farming sector and communities across the Murray-Darling Basin,” NFF President Jock Laurie today said.

“The Minister’s have collectively called for greater balance: exactly the thing the NFF and our members have been repeatedly calling for, and working towards, during the development of the Plan.

“We have said repeatedly that the proposed Plan must equally balance the social, economic and environmental needs of the Basin, and now, we have a Ministerial Council that agrees,” Mr Laurie said.

The NFF particularly welcomed the Ministerial Council’s directive that more attention must be paid to ways to maximise the river system’s efficiency through environmental works and measures and river operations, and that the sustainable diversion limit may be altered as a result.

“We note that the Ministerial Council did not settle on a sustainable diversion limit number; instead, they are focusing on how the limit may be adjusted based on a range of measures,” Mr Laurie said.

“This is a positive step forward, and it shows the Ministers are listening. As we have said, getting the Basin Plan right is not as simple as settling on a number.

“We know that alternative approaches to water recovery would fundamentally change the Basin Plan’s negative impacts on our communities and we have long sought a guarantee from Government to recover water through smart solutions, like infrastructure, environmental works and measures, local community projects and river operations.

“The NFF has continually called on the Government to show its commitment to the future of the Basin communities by adopting a sensible, strategic and solutions-focused approach to the Murray-Darling Basin by working with – rather than fighting against – our industry; the industry that has led the way in Australia’s water reform efforts over the last 20 years.

“The Ministerial Council has achieved a very welcome step forward on this. We look forward to seeing the Authority’s next Basin Plan iteration at the end of July,” Mr Laurie said.

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