Basin plan reforms must remain a priority

 
NSW Farmers is concerned that the appointment of Murray-Darling Basin Plans Inspector General Mick Keelty as the head of the South Australian bushfires inquiry may delay vital reforms to water management. 

NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the Association supported Mr Keelty’s lead role in an inquiry that aimed to resolve urgent issues with the Murray Darling Basin Plan.  

“The problems with the Murray Darling Basin Plan can’t be fixed in just a few months. Our members are concerned that Mr Keelty’s new appointment signals a loss of momentum in this vital inquiry into the issues that are overwhelming farmers in the Murray Darling Basin,” Mr Jackson said. 

Mr Jackson said farmers throughout the Basin have been calling for a root and branch review of the issues with the Murray Darling Basin Plan since 2012. 

“The appointment of the Interim Inspector General and the establishment of the inquiry was seen by NSW Farmers members as a response by government, at last, to farmers’ desperate calls for fairer access to water.”

“We will be seeking assurances from Government that the Interim Inspector General’s inquiry will be the start of an urgent process to fix the problems with the Murray Darling Basin Plan.” 

NSW Farmers is continuing to call on the State and Commonwealth Governments to work together to address the genuine social and economic concerns of farmers and communities that have resulted from the over recovery of consumptive water. 

“Governments must recognise that an additional 450GL cannot be recovered from the consumptive pool without profound disruption to regional communities and local food and fibre production," Mr Jackson said. 

“We must also resolve the policy, funding and operational impediments that are preventing the implementation of sensible and innovative supply measures to return more water to the consumptive pool.”

The NSW Farmers Water Taskforce is also calling for a review the viability of the environmental contributions made to South Australian lakes scheme and measures to manage and mitigate the expansion of irrigation development across the Basin, which is threatening reliability for existing irrigation and causing significant environmental damage. 

Date:  Monday, 3 February 2020
Media Contact:  Michael Burt  | 0428 228 988 | burtm@nswfarmers.org.au