The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) says its members do not support, and NIC does not advocate, the New South Wales government pulling out of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

CEO Steve Whan said “NIC has 34 member bodies across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, overwhelmingly those members see the Basin Plan as being very difficult and definitely not perfect, but as the only way to move forward providing certainty for irrigation communities and the environment.

“I am concerned to see comments from a newly elected NSW MLC urging the New South Wales government to pull out of the Plan because, overwhelmingly, our members feel that is not in the long-term interests of the communities and the members we represent.

“Every other NIC member understands the anger and frustration felt by irrigators on the NSW upper Murray who have zero allocations, but still see so much water flowing past their properties down river. They are having salt rubbed into the wound every single day. We don’t tell our members what to say, so when they call for a pause, they are entitled to express that differing point of view.

“We do need understanding by Government, and a genuine effort to work with communities to provide some certainty for the future and to ensure that we focus on achieving actual environmental outcomes.

“But pulling out of the Plan will not provide the answer. 

“If the NSW Government pulls out of the Plan, it does not change the Federally legislated water recovery targets; what it does do, is stop work on the 36 adjustment measures which will result in more water being recovered from irrigators.  That would be a disaster for communities. 

“Pulling out of the Plan will launch us back into years of argument between those who advocate far greater recovery targets and those who want recovery stopped or reversed.  It will be an angry, divisive and extremely damaging argument.  It will destroy investment certainty, community confidence and stop the progress that has been made toward environmental improvement.

“We have just had a comprehensive review of the Basin Plan by the Productivity Commission. It dealt with many of the difficult tasks ahead including time frames.  It included recommendations on being realistic about what water can be delivered given constraints and on issues like the salt export objectives. The Commission’s review should form the basis for considering how to proceed and timeframes for the remaining elements of the Plan.”

Media Contact:  Steve Whan 0429 780 883
28 March 2019