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Minister guarantees safeguards: a win for Basin communities

31 October 2012

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the decision by the Federal Water Minister to respond to the NFF’s calls for extra safeguards around the setting of the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism within the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

In a move acknowledged by NFF CEO Matt Linnegar, following meetings with NFF and other key stakeholders, the Minister has reversed his earlier proposal to grant final sign off on the Plan’s adjustment mechanism to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

“A month ago, the Government was expected to table amendments to the Water Act 2007, which proposed to give ultimate authority over the Murray-Darling Basin Plan sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism – a critical element of the Plan – to the Authority,” Mr Linnegar said.

“At the time, we questioned not only the decision to grant such responsibility to the Authority, but also the decision to make such amendments without consultation with any key stakeholders – and along with other stakeholders, like the National and NSW Irrigators’ Councils, we took our concerns directly to the Minister.

“Last night the Minister proved that he had listened, and with the support of the Opposition, changed the amendment Bill that was tabled in Parliament so that it will be the Minister himself who has the final say on the adjustment mechanism, following a formal consultation process.

“We now ask that the Minister takes the same sensible approach to the final Basin Plan. On Friday, we saw an announcement that tipped the scales even further out of balance.

“What we are seeing is the needs of the environment taking precedent over the needs of the Basin’s communities – not the balanced approach to the environment, communities and farmers that has long been promised.

“Today we reiterate our call to the Government to rule out any future water buybacks in the Basin, and we hope the Minister is once again listening,” Mr Linnegar said.

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