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Rushed Water Act amendments anger farmers

12 September 2012

The Federal Government is expected to table amendments to the Water Act 2007 tomorrow, which, if passed by Parliament, will give ultimate authority over the Murray-Darling Basin Plan sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, rather than Parliament.

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) CEO Matt Linnegar today questioned why the Government would rush the proposed amendments through without consultation, and why such decision making power would be given to the Authority.

“The Government’s proposed changes essentially mean that the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism – a critical element of the Basin Plan – would be rubber stamped by the Authority and not the Minister or Parliament,” Mr Linnegar said.

“We have serious concerns with the amendments to the Act proposed by the Government – not the least because the Government has tried to push the changes through without consulting with us or any other industry stakeholders.

“We only found out about the proposed amendments yesterday, just two days prior to the scheduled tabling in Parliament, which is not sufficient for changes of this magnitude.

“We call on the Minister to shelve any planned amendments to the Water Act and engage industry immediately on the entire Basin Plan package: the proposed amendments to the Water Act, Basin Plan and Intergovernmental Agreement.

“As we have said all along, the Basin Plan must achieve balance between the social, economic and environmental needs of the river and the communities that rely on it, and the Minister needs to show us how the package delivers this balance,” Mr Linnegar said.

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