Farmers call for any future water buybacks to be ruled out
26 October 2012
The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is calling on the Government to rule out any future water buybacks in the Murray-Darling Basin, following the Prime Minister’s announcement today that additional water will be delivered to the environment.
“Just this week in her address to the NFF’s National Congress, the Prime Minister said the Federal Government is focused on building the long-term productivity and sustainability of our nation’s agricultural sector,” NFF CEO Matt Linnegar said.
“Yet today, just three days later, the Prime Minister has announced $1.77 billion over 10 years to return further water to the environment in the Basin – an area that accounts for 39 percent of Australia’s agricultural production.
“Much of this money is to be spent on the recovery of an additional 450GL of water through infrastructure, so it is positive to see the Government is listening to us in our calls for greater investment in infrastructure and efficiency measures. They’ve also listened to our calls for longer timeframes by pushing out the date for completion of infrastructure projects to 2024.
“However the Government is talking about using infrastructure to divert yet more water away from rural communities and agricultural production within the Basin: not to recover the water already allocated under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. And they are unable to commit to not making any further water purchases. This is simply unacceptable.
“What this means is that if the States cannot meet their commitments under the existing agreement on infrastructure, the Government will revert to buybacks to remove water from agricultural production.
“We are today seeking a commitment from the Government that some of the $1.77 billion will be used on infrastructure within the already committed 2750GL to ensure no further water buybacks are necessary – and to rule out any future water buybacks.
“We have been calling for balance in the Basin Plan from the very beginning – balance that equally weighs the needs of the environment with the needs of the Basin’s communities. Today’s announcement is pure politics and seems to be all about appeasing South Australia and the environmental groups.
“The Prime Minister this week recognised farmers as ‘frontline caretakers of our greatest assets,’ including water – yet today, one of these great assets is being diverted away from rural communities in a move that will place a ceiling on the ability to expand future food and fibre production,” Mr Linnegar said.
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