The Federal Government has today refused to give New South Wales and Victoria more time
to deliver their Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) projects, while
flagging more buybacks are likely to fill shortfalls.
NIC CEO Isaac Jeffrey said: “The Federal Minister Tanya Plibersek has repeatedly said all
options are on the table for finalising the Basin Plan, but her decision today to refuse a
modest time extension for New South Wales and Victoria leads us to one inevitable
conclusion – she’s only really considering buybacks.
“Without more time, there will be shortfalls in water recovery in these states which could see
between 192-315 gigalitres more water to be recovered through buybacks. That amount of
water represents whole irrigation areas – it’s almost all of South Australian irrigation (355 GL) –
which is thousands of businesses and jobs. It represents billions of dollars in economic activity
and millions of tonnes of food production.
“The Minister said ‘infrastructure projects, on-farm efficiencies, water purchase’ were the
options on the table, but without extending the timeframes to allow complex projects it will
be impossible to develop businesses cases and turn the first sods on projects, let alone build
them by the June 2024 deadline.
“It’s obvious the Government was only paying lip service when it promised to consult, listen
and consider all options, because they have ignored sensible requests and practical realities.
“The Government, like all of us, laments the closure of the car manufacturing industry, but it
clearly hasn’t learnt the lessons from that sorry chapter. Food and fibre producers, truckies,
cafes, manufacturers, equipment providers, retailers, and countless others up and down their
supply chains will be forced out of business if the Government pushes ahead with buybacks
on this scale.
“I wonder if the Minister has a plan for re-locating, retraining and re-employing whole towns
and regions. I wonder if the Government has considered the ramifications of buybacks on
trade, and our food and national security. And, I wonder if the Minister has spoken to our
supermarkets and Treasury officials to try to work out exactly how much buybacks will add to
the cost of living for all Australians, let alone where any product shortfalls will come from if we
aren’t growing it here.
“The Minister must urgently reconsider the requests from New South Wales and Victoria. They
only asked for a two year extension, which would have meant well over 93% of the Basin Plan
would be completed without the harm which will otherwise be inflicted on regional
communities and to the wallets of all Australians at the checkout.
“There are better ways and they are achievable to ensure balance and outcomes for the
environment, communities and the productive sector.”
Ends. Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890 firstname.lastname@example.org