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MDBA must reveal full analysis of impact on Basin communities

26 August 2016

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today echoed the calls of Cotton Australia for the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to release its analysis of the social and economic impacts of the Basin Plan on communities in the north of the Basin.

Over the last three years, the MDBA has been conducting the Northern Basin Review. This review has examined the potential environmental benefits and the likely social and economic costs of the 390GL water recovery target in the original plan, as well as scenarios greater and less than this target.

NFF Water Taskforce Chair, Les Gordon, said in its recent consultation tour, the MDBA had presented the socio-economic results for three communities – Warren, Dirranbandi and Collarenebri, however this had not been done for other affected communities.

“These results showed potential impacts of up to 35 per cent of full time local jobs lost and we know that this analysis has been done for many more communities,” Mr Gordon said.

“While the MDBA has released draft reports of its analysis of environmental impacts, the detail of the social and economic analysis has not yet surfaced and it is critical this is made available and the process is transparent. Not publishing the analysis until the last minute of the Northern Review is just not acceptable.

“Without this information we cannot have a considered debate about the judgments the MDBA is about to make on the future of towns such as Wee Waa, Narrabri, Goondiwindi, St George, Bourke, Trangie and Moree.”

Mr Gordon said these small communities in northern NSW and southern Queensland were at tipping point.

“Without irrigation, these communities have fewer jobs, reduced local spending and fewer kids in local schools,” he said.

“Enough is enough. The MDBA's just add water approach must end and its focus turned to other measures that we know will achieve better environmental outcomes such as cold water pollution that stops native fish breeding, controlling the feral cats, dogs and foxes that eat wildlife and water bird eggs and a continued focus on options to eradicate carp.”

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