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Don’t pull the plug on Great Artesian Basin funding

10 July 2014

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today called on the Federal Government to continue its support for the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI), a long-running program that improves the condition of artesian waters.

Chair of the NFF Water Taskforce, Les Gordon, said the GABSI has been an important collaboration between the Commonwealth, States and landholders to fund infrastructure works that repair uncontrolled artesian bores and replace open earthen bore drains with piped water supplies.

Federal Government funding for GABSI expired at the end of June this year. While the Government hasn’t ruled-out finding the funds, it has not yet committed to contributing its share to the next phase of the initiative.

“Instigated by the Howard Government, GABSI commenced in 1999. Since then, 647 bores have been controlled, 19 178 kilometres of bore drains have been decommissioned, and 28 345 kilometres of piping have been installed,” said Mr Gordon.

“Yet the important work of GABSI is not finalised. If left unfinished, the gains of past efforts will be lost. Precious water will continue to be lost through inefficient bores and open drains.

“Uncontrolled flow from bores and open earth bore drains in the Artesian Basin threaten the health of important groundwater-dependant ecosystems and the continued access to artesian water by farmers.

“Farmers and States are committed to continuing their co-investment in GABSI, however the Commonwealth Government appears to be dragging its heels.

“With AgForce QLD, the NFF has been working with the Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, and Parliamentary Secretary for Water Simon Birmingham, to secure funding for the initiative. Both agree that the Commonwealth should continue to fund its share of GABSI.

“We encourage the Government to turn their words of support for the initiative into meaningful action. Everyone acknowledges the success of the initiative and agrees that GABSI should be funded. It is time to provide landholders with some certainty that this will happen,” said Mr Gordon.

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