Wider community input critical for water plans 

NSW Farmers is calling for more extensive community consultation on the Water Sharing Plans (WSPs) and Water Resource Plans (WRPs) for eight surface water areas in NSW. 

Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey, unexpectedly announced on 3 March 2020 that she would take these WRPs back to the Stakeholder Advisory Panels (SAPs) for comment prior to submitting to the Commonwealth for accreditation.

This follows the promise by the Minister in December 2019 that consultation would not be to rushed deadlines. 

“Although there is significant time pressure for the completion of the WRPs, it is essential that the WRPs are the product of constructive community input,” said NSW Farmers Water Taskforce Chair Xavier Martin. 

“NSW is the most complex watershed in the Murray Darling Basin System and getting the WRPs right is more important than meeting arbitrary deadlines.”

“NSW Farmers is concerned that the WRPs and WSPs are only going back for consultation with the SAPs and not the broader community.  Our members are calling for a comprehensive and representative consultation process.”

“Issues that the SAPs and communities have continually raised through public consultations have been ignored. As a result communities have lost confidence that their issues and critical matters will ever be resolved.”

“There is a need for WRPs to go back to the SAPs, however the Association urges the Minister to also consult more widely. The consultation process will be meaningless if the constructive recommendations are not progressed.”

“We are also concerned that the process is occurring when there are a number of inquiries currently underway with recommendations due to be released in the coming months.”

Mr Martin said this includes findings from the ACCC Inquiry into Water Markets, the Interim Inspector General’s Inquiry into Murray Darling Water Resources, the Inquiry into the Social and Economic Conditions in the Basin and the CSIRO Lower Lakes Independent Science Review. 

“The findings from these inquiries must be taken into consideration when finalising the WRPs and WSPs,” he said. 

Date: Tuesday, 17 March 2020
Media Contact:  Michael Burt  | 0428 228 988 | burtm@nswfarmers.org.au