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NFF: Basin Ministers must now put words into action

17 March 2017

National Farmers' Federation (NFF) Vice President and Water Taskforce Chair Les Gordon has welcomed the decisions of Murray-Darling Basin Ministers in Mildura today.

Last night, while attending the Stakeholder Roundtable, Mr Gordon told Ministers they needed to finish the job of implementing the Basin Plan in a way that avoided adverse socio-economic outcomes and find a pathway to end the deadlock of recent times.

The communique released following the Ministerial Council meeting highlighted that:

1. Governments have identified a credible pathway to offset the full remaining water recovery gap in the southern Basin - with supply or “down-water” measures, with project proposals to be finalised by Governments in June 2017.

2. Governments have agreed to the terms of reference to analyse efficiency or up-water measures, to ensure neutral or improved outcomes which will report in December 2017.

3. Ministerial Council agreed that complementary [non-flow] projects could provide real environmental outcomes and were important to achieving Plan outcomes.

"If these are strong commitments from all Ministers, and not just words on a page, then the Ministerial Council has gone a long way to ensuring the plan achieves environmental outcomes while avoiding further socio-economic pain on Basin communities," Mr Gordon said.

Mr Gordon noted, at the Stakeholder Roundtable, the importance of halting water recovery in the northern basin, and instead focusing on tool kit measures.

"While Minister’s received an update from the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) on the Northern Basin, we still await their final views on the MDBA’s recommendation to recover 42 gigalitres from northern production."

Mr Gordon said Ministers must now take steps to walk the pathway they have agreed to, as this would go a long way to providing certainty to Basin communities and industries.

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