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Farmers in agreement that the Murray Darling Basin Plan needs fixing

3 December 2019

In Canberra today, the National Farmers Federation met with representatives of the Speak Up 4 Water rally.

NFF CEO Tony Mahar said NFF and its members and those taking part in the peaceful protest were largely in agreement.

"Today's discussions were robust but constructive. We all want a better outcome.

"The NFF and Speak Up 4 Water are in agreement: the Murray Darling Basin Plan is currently not delivering adequately for any stakeholders or values."

Mr Mahar said all parties agreed that Basin Governments needed to take urgent action to implement the recommendations of the Productivity Commission's five-year review.

"The Plan is a living document with routine review mechanisms built in to ensure the Plan can be adapted based on lived experience.

"However, these review mechanisms are as good as useless, if Basin Ministers charged with implementing the recommendations, don't take action.

"The NFF continues to put pressure on the Ministerial Council to put in place the recommended measures to improve the Plan's implementation. We demand action on this front, when the Council meets this month."

Mr Mahar said there was also consensus at today's discussion that Interim Basin Inspector General Mick Keelty be given the appropriate powers to be the strong cop on the beat, to provide the community the confidence and transparency it seeks and to bring anyone found to be doing the wrong thing to account.

Mr Mahar said the NFF and its members did not support calls to 'can the plan'.

"The NFF's open and farmer-driven policy process is very clear and we want to continue to guarantee it represents the views of our members. Right now that means Governments must get on with ensuring the Plan is fixed and it delivers for rural and regional Australia and the farming communities that rely on it.

"Our members who met with the delegation today including the Victorian Farmers Federation and NSW Farmers don't see the benefit for farmers or communities in doing away with the monumental commitment and responsibilities included in the Plan, which is only seven years into its 12-year life-span.

"Importantly, a number of agreements that sit outside the Plan would not change, in the event that the Plan is paused or scrapped. Machinery like the water sharing arrangements under the Murray Darling Agreement and the ongoing existence of environmental water (already acquired) would remain in operation."

Mr Mahar recognised the hundreds of farmers who travelled to Canberra to voice their concerns.

"We're in very challenging times. The best outcomes for agriculture and the bush will be achieved when farmers work together and I look forward to that happening."

Media Enquiries: Laureta Wallace
E
P 0408 448 250

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