The Productivity Commission’s draft report following itsfive-year review of the Murray Darling Basin Plan provides a wake up call on some of the challenges regardingthe practical implementation of the Basin Plan, says National Irrigators’ Council CEO, Steve Whan.

Steve Whan said “it would be hard to argue with the draft report’s statement that the next five years of basin plan implementation will be ‘challenging’.

“However, in contrast to some of the doom and gloom scenarios raised by opponents of the Basin Plan, the PC report tells us that the plan is fundamentally on track and is making “significant practical progress.

“The report confirms that achievements are being realised in relation to water recovery, and recognising that the Plan is only half way through implementation, understandably the full environmental benefits are not going to be there yet.

“The wake up calls come for all Basin Governments and communities and reflect concerns NIC has frequently expressed on the ability to meet certain tasks within the time frames remaining. That concern is reflected in recommendations on the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Measures projects, the Water Resources plans and efficiency projects.

“On the positive side, NIC welcomes the focus on the need for maximum flexibility and consultation in implementing the 36 Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Measures projects. These projects must achieve the environmental benefits intended, if not we risk more water being taken out of productive use.

“We also cautiously welcome the recommendations relating to the 450GL of so called ‘up-water’ which is to be obtained via efficiency projects that come with either positive or at least no negative socio economic impacts.

“Recommendations relating to modelling of the benefits of water recovery in conjunction with constraints are strongly supported.

“The report has proposed major changes to the governance of the MDBA. This is not suggesting the MDBA has failed, but rather it raises a relevant issue about whether regulation and reporting should be separated from policy and implementation in the longer term.

“This is a detailed report and it will take time to consider all recommendations, however it does provide a platform for further discussion on several practical considerations and a constructive and positive contribution to the implementation of the Basin Plan.”

Media Contact: Steve Whan 0429 780 883
30 August 2018