Insights Paper on Murray Darling Basin Plan Review flips the focus to outcomes

20 June 2024, Caberra, ACT: The National Irrigators’ Council welcomes the release of
the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s early insights paper as positive shift in thinking on how
best to manage the Murray Darling Basin.

The National Irrigators’ Council CEO, Zara Lowien said the early insights paper is a stark
contrast to the Department’s just add water approach, acknowledging that we need to
move past volumes of water and focus on environmental outcomes because we know
there are no interventions and no amount of water recovery that will avoid the
apocalyptic, fake images from the Australian Governments current advertising

“We see this paper as a vital step towards informing decisions to enable more effective
management of water resources across the Murray Darling Basin”.

“It sets the stage for collaborative efforts to optimize the use of environmental water and
to achieve lasting benefits for communities, agriculture, and the environment.”

“We cannot continue to ignore non-water interventions”.

“This paper provides a foundation to embrace the policy change and hopefully the
funding needed to bring about on-ground, practical environmental outcomes”.

“Governments can take steps to build a more resilient Basin that is better equipped to
manage the uncertainty of our future climate without reducing the economic capacity
of our irrigation dependent communities through buying water from farmers.”

“They can invest in other known environmental limitations, such as removing barriers to
fish movement and addressing carp that together with water already recovered, can
provide real, quadruple bottom line outcomes for future generations without the socioeconomic impact of just buying more water.”

“We welcome this shift in thinking but question why we have to wait for the finalisation of
the 2026 review to start maximising environmental water”.

Ms Lowien was cautious to note that while the paper is a good start to the conversation,
further work is needed to understand what these insights mean for the future of the
Basin; its industries, irrigation dependant communities, First Nations people and the
environment and a reshaped Murray Darling Basin Plan.