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NFF Voices Serious Concerns About Proposed Snowy Sell-Off

29 May 2006

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) today strongly urged all levels of government to protect the rights of Australian farmers if the sale of the Snowy Hydro goes ahead.

“Certainty of irrigation entitlements is a key plank of the National Water Initiative (NWI). We are asking whether these entitlements and associated annual water allocations will be affected by the sale,” NFF President, Mr Peter Corish said.

“NFF is very concerned that privatising the Snowy will place significant pressure on the timing of water releases to coincide with maximising power generation. We fear that little regard will be given to the important role the Snowy plays in supporting agriculture activities.

“Serious consideration needs to be given to the future value of water as currently, electricity generation forms the basis of the sale. In the proposal, management of the water is seen only as a secondary consideration.

“Water could potentially be worth much more than the sale of the electricity it generates. NFF has questions about what that means for agriculture.

“NFF members are also concerned that the proposed 10% ownership cap applies for just four years. In the interests of ensuring ongoing security and stakeholder confidence in water management in Australia, the terms of the sale should include that the cap applies in perpetuity.

“Certainly there are questions surrounding what privatisation of the Snowy means in the context of the current risk assignment framework of the NWI, particularly in relation to environmental flows.

“Not only must governments consider how these issues are going to be managed, but also how the funds generated from the proposed sale might be allocated. NFF believes that these funds should be used to safeguard the environment, irrigation water and the future of the communities that rely on the Snowy.”

The NFF Policy Council will formally consider this issue on 14-15 June.

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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