IN THIS SECTION:
PM’s water plan poses questions farmers need answered
8 February 2007
WITH the Prime Minister and State Premiers set for a showdown over water management rights today, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has cast its hat in the ring, calling on the Federal Government to break the ‘cone of silence’ around the detail of its $10 billion water plan.
“We’re prepared for the usual ‘argy bargy’ between State Governments, and between State Governments and the Federal Government on this issue today,” NFF President David Crombie said. “But there can be no excuse for failure to deliver sensible, progressive water reform in this country.
“So we have welcomed the intent of the PM’s plan. However, while the drought – the worst on record – has accentuated the need for action, sooner rather than later, it is to the shame of all our governments that party politics, bureaucratic processes and apathy have paralysed any real progress to date.
“The PM’s $10 billion water package makes a splash to address this. If the States come to the party, surrender their powers over water to the Commonwealth, and this streamlines action and delivery of the National Water Initiative, then great! Either way, governments are over-due on their water account and need to get on with it.
“But the PM’s water plan raises serious questions, which we need answered, before farmers can take the plunge into any new water regime. The PM’s plan makes a lot of the right noises, but the details are still very unclear.”
The NFF has numerous reservations and questions regarding the PM’s water plan, including:
“The last thing farmers need is uncertainty over water rights and water allocations,” Mr Crombie said. “But that’s exactly what we have at this point in time.
“This undermines delivery of the key tenets of the National Water Initiative – efficient markets, best practice pricing, world-class infrastructure and planning that gives farmers certainty and security in water entitlements.
“The $10 billion water plan is the PM’s baby, but we don’t want the National Water Initiative thrown out with the bath water. We expect to have these, and other questions, answered… sooner – rather than later, and industry must be centrally involved.
“The NFF cannot make any sensible assessment of the PM’s proposal before these blanks – and there are many of them – are filled in.”
Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855, 0408 448 250 or
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