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Relaxed constraints a distraction to balanced Basin Plan

9 October 2012

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today reiterated calls for a balanced Basin Plan – one that seeks to return water to the environment without putting jobs and family farms at risk.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has today released modeling that focuses on the likely outcomes should 2,800GL and 3,200GL be returned to the river system, after key constraints in the system – namely limitations on the amount of water that can be released from various water sources, including river channels – have been relaxed.

NFF CEO Matt Linnegar said at a time when critical decisions are about to be made about the future of the Murray-Darling Basin and its communities, the focus should not be about how much more water can be tipped into the system, but how improved environmental outcomes can be delivered without hurting communities.

“The report released today is a distraction from the main game - and one focused entirely on what additional environmental benefits could be gained without serious thought to how this would affect people,” Mr Linnegar said.

“Interestingly it appears that additional water would not substantially improve environmental outcomes and in any event, would require new money to achieve.

“I reiterate our belief that water recovery in the Basin must be through infrastructure and efficiency measures, through on-farm environmental works and measures and through river operations and smarter ways to deliver environmental outcomes – not through simply recovering more water via general tenders and water buybacks.

“We’re talking about the survival of rural communities, about the livelihoods of the thousands of people that live in the Murray-Darling Basin. The Basin Plan cannot be solely about the needs of the environment at the expense of the Basin communities.

“The Government has committed to a Plan that supports strong regional communities, ensures sustainable food production and delivers healthy rivers – and it must now deliver that balance,” Mr Linnegar said.

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