The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) has welcomed the announcements on implementation of recommendations from the “Sefton” panel and other reports, saying they will help to get frustrated elements of the Basin Plan back on track.

NIC CEO, Steve Whan, said “when Minister Pitt took on the water portfolio, he promised us that he recognised the need to get on with the job, implementing recommendations from the many reports – not constantly commissioning new ones.

“We agree with the Minister when he says a lot of positive work has been done.  We are seeing the benefits with environmental flows achieving early positive results, despite catastrophic drought.  The bulk of water recovery has happened, and the CEWH has delivered around 21 Sydney harbours worth of water to environmentally important sites.

“The Minister’s commitment to greater flexibility and the delivery of the 605GL worth of supply projects (SDLAM) is absolutely critical.  Let’s be very clear, if the Basin Plan is implemented properly, no further buyback is needed, we welcome the Ministers’ confirmation on this.

“It means we must get those SDLAM projects delivered without killing-off regional communities and we need maximum adaptability to do it.  We need vastly improved consultation and planning – the Commonwealth’s commitment to get involved, with more resources, is vital.

“Robbie Sefton has said ‘business as usual, where set timelines are relentlessly pursued’ is not going to work.  That is absolutely right.

“The evidence of negative impact of buybacks on communities is unequivocal, as well as avoiding that impact in the future, NIC welcomes a commitment to help the communities that have already been affected build a future. 

“Regional assistance must be driven by communities and build long term sustainable jobs and incomes.  That means businesses driving incomes and employment.

“NIC strongly welcomes the commitment to a ‘one stop shop’ for water information and the delivery of some Productivity Commission recommendations, particularly the division and refocusing of the roles of the MDBA.

“We continue to be concerned that there are still legislated time frames for parts of the Plan that are unrealistic, and we want to see a bi-partisan dialogue on how to deal with this.

“There is nothing in this announcement that is not consistent with delivering the Basin Plan, it was always intended to be adaptive, it was always intended to have a triple bottom line outcome. The indication that the Commonwealth is going to drive progress harder is most welcome.”

Media Contact:  Steve Whan 0429 780 883

Friday 4 September 2020