The Federal Water Minister has today confirmed the Government will seek to buyback water
across the Murray-Darling Basin in what will be devastating news for farmers and their local
NIC CEO Isaac Jeffrey said: “Today the Minister has confirmed what communities, businesses
and workers across the Murray-Darling Basin have been fearing – the return to water
buybacks. They may be called strategic purchases, but regardless of how you brand it, it’s
still a buyback and it will still damage businesses, communities and jobs in our regions.
“This announcement was made without consultation and is a slap in the face to farmers and
communities who were assured they would be listened to and have their views considered.
So much for all options being on the table.
“The Minister and other stakeholders are quick to say that there are willing sellers. But what
they fail to say is that a majority of these farmers are selling under duress. Trade issues, crops
losses from floods, the price of fuel and fertiliser, a lack of workers and now the inevitable rise
in the price of water means businesses are struggling. They may be forced to sell their water
to make ends meet in the short term. Not many will sell for any other reason.
“The most insidious thing about buybacks is that they are a tax on food and fibre. When
water is taken away from farmers, it forces the price of water up. That will then be passed on
to families when they buy groceries and school uniforms. Every time you have a glass of wine,
put an orange in your child’s lunchbox, cook a stir-fry with vegetables and rice or put on your
socks and jocks there will be a new water tax on it.
“Buybacks mean less production to feed and clothe our growing population into the future –
which will force up the price of food and mean we will need to import more, particularly
cheaper and less healthy, processed options. It will also mean less trade income for our
nation and an inability to truly help feed and clothe our neighbours and friends around the
world – even as they struggle to produce food thanks to their own changing climates.
“You only need to look at the devastation wrought by buybacks in the Victorian dairy
industry to see carnage they leave in their wake. The Murray-Darling generates $22 billion at
the farm gate and over $80 billion in our economy. That’s jobs. That’s people’s livelihoods.
That’s food on plates. That’s clothes on backs. Buybacks put all of this at risk.
“The Minister and all Basin Ministers and Governments must rule out further buybacks. They
must deliver on their promises by finishing the SDLAM projects – even if that means new
projects or more time needs to be given to get them done. They must also rule out changes
to the socio-economic conditions around the Efficiency Measures program and changes to
the legislation which would allow the 450GL to be purchased through buybacks. Failure to
do so, would be a significant breach of faith with regional communities.
“There are better ways to achieve the same outcomes. Governments should instead invest in
infrastructure and complementary measures to deliver real outcomes for our environment.
You can’t just keep adding water and hope for change, while wrecking regional towns, jobs
Ends. Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890 email@example.com