A $500 million boost to federal funding for irrigation infrastructure is a welcome investment in Australia’s future food and fibre producing capacity says the National Irrigators’ Council (NIC).

NIC CEO, Steve Whan, said “Australia would have empty shelves in our fresh fruit and veg markets and we’d be drinking imported milk and wine, if it wasn’t for irrigation and it is good that the Government recognises that expanding sustainable irrigation is a positive for the nation.

“We welcome the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister of an increase in funding to the National Water Infrastructure Development fund.  The announcement flags projects in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria, these projects offer the prospect of sustainable expansion of irrigation capacity enabling Australia to produce more food and fibre.

“The discussion about irrigation in eastern Australia particularly sometimes seems to forget that irrigation is about more than the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“Nationally irrigation supplies Australia with more than 84% of its vegetables, 83% of fruit and nuts, and more than 90% of grapes.  Not to mention our cotton, sugar, rice and a significant amount of the fodder needed to keep livestock alive during drought.

“The National Water Initiative principles make it clear that irrigation development must be sustainable and that is what we are seeing from our schemes, it’s important also to continue to recognise that efficiency on farm is a positive end itself allowing us to produce more using less water.

“On that basis we also welcome recent Government announcements relating to accelerated depreciation for investment in water infrastructure and the availability of Rural Investment Corporation finance.

“Australia’s irrigators generated more than $15 billion for the Australian economy last year and with sensible investment we can continue to see that contribution grow.”

Media Contact:Steve Whan 0429 780 883