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Socio-economic analysis of southern Basin communities long overdue

15 November 2016

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Water Taskforce Chair, Les Gordon has welcomed the announcement that the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) will conduct detailed community scale analysis on the impact of the Basin Plan in southern basin communities.

The MDBA’s commitment follows similar work that they have undertaken as part of the Northern Basin Review, which found that water recovery in some communities had resulted in up to 35% of job losses.

The decision comes after recent independent research conducted on the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District in Victoria which showed $550 million in annual production lost, totalling $4.4 billion by 2020 and an estimated 1000 jobs lost.

“NFF has called for community level impacts to be examined for years now and the Authority’s commitment will mean that there is at least a process for community concerns to be properly considered,” Mr Gordon said.

“We urge the MDBA to ensure that there is a genuine and engaging process, so that the analysis reflects the reality we see. This has been core to the success of the analysis conducted for the Northern Basin Review.”

Mr Gordon also urged that the Authority ensure that the new analysis be conducted in a timeframe that could assist Basin governments make key decisions on the implementation of the Basin Plan, which are due in mid-2017.

“Basin Ministers need good information on which to base these decisions, and we feel robust local scale socio-economic analysis will be a key ingredient to delivering sound outcomes.

“Key decisions, like the finalisation of the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism, will ultimately determine what further impact implementing the Basin Plan will have on communities.

“We eagerly await the results of the Northern Basin Review, to be announced by the Authority next week, and the outcome of the Ministerial Council meeting to be held later this week.

“Beyond these, Governments will be making really important decisions in the coming 12 months on projects that will reduce the volume of water that needs to be recovered, yet achieves the same environmental outcomes. This is a solid approach and one that only last week, following changes to the Water Act, the NFF applauded.

“Enabling the Basin Plan to be implemented in a way that avoids further impact on industries and communities is a message the NFF will continue to deliver and seek action on.”

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