The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) today welcomed the Federal Government’s step up in drought support measures with the once-off provision of 100 gigalitres (GL) of water in the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin.

NIC Chairman, Gavin McMahon said “The announcement by the Government of 100GL as part of its drought relief package will be warmly welcomed in irrigated agriculture communities who are under considerable pressure from both the lack of water allocations and the unsustainably high cost of water.

“Those of us living and working in rural communities witness on a daily basis the challenging circumstances faced by farmers with zero water allocation, and where the impacts are deeply felt in the Basin with negative flow on effects that see communities also struggling to survive during drought,” Gavin McMahon said.

“While the measure, which will make water available at the cost of $100 per ML and provide some relief for dairy farmers and graziers growing fodder, silage and pasture for livestock is a welcome step, it is disappointing that the equally valuable horticulture sector will miss out.   

“The horticulture sector has had to face devastatingly high prices for water and we must acknowledge the contribution made by the sector in food production, with Basin irrigators in 2017-18 growing more than 70% of all Australia’s grapes, 41% of fruit and nuts and 20% of our vegetables. 

“It is pleasing however to see the federal and South Australian Governments working together at this critical time when solutions are needed, making the water available from the operation of South Australia’s Adelaide Desalination Plant. 

“We hope this collaboration will set an example for a greater commitment by some states to the work needed on the offset projects in the Basin to deliver up 605GL of water under the Sustainable Diversion Limit suite of projects. These ‘supply’ projects are critical for achieving environmental outcomes and critical to ensuring that no more water be removed the highly productive sector in the Southern Basin. 

Media Contact:
Gavin McMahon (Chairman)
0419 038 962
7 November 2019