The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) welcomed the release of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan
2020 Evaluation, noting while goals are broadly being met, there is still work to be done.

NIC Chairman Jeremy Morton acknowledged the work to date on implementing the Plan, but
stated there were missed opportunities for the Evaluation to reinforce the triple bottom line
objectives of the Water Act.

“There are significant opportunities to maximise environmental, social and economic outcomes
from implementing holistic management of water and land,” NIC Chairman Jeremy Morton

“While we have formalised water sharing arrangements for a limited and variable resource, we
have a long way to go in terms of Natural Resource Management which complements, rather
than reinforces, the competing interests for water.

“Australia’s farmers are increasingly working in a sustainable way, supported by new
technologies, and are positioned to deliver better business outcomes and better outcomes
with their local communities. Farmers have made sacrifices, including years with zero water
allocations, and that too should be acknowledged.

“As the climate predictions of less and more variable water availability unfold, it will be crucial
we don’t repeat the mistake of thinking that rebalancing the sharing arrangements is a
panacea to a deeper and more fundamental issue of more effective management our water
and land.

“NIC encourages the Authority to be brave and go that step further and call on Basin
Governments to roll its six key recommendations into one holistic vision for a Basin Plan which
unites Basin Communities and Australia – maximising the triple bottom line, environmental,
social and economic outcomes.”

NIC Chief Executive Officer Isaac Jeffrey said: “The Evaluation notes the majority of the Basin
Plan is now in effect. The NIC is pleased to see it is broadly achieving targets, which will be
welcomed news for local communities considering the effort that has gone into making it a
reality, especially during years of drought.

“NIC strongly supports Recommendation 1 of the Evaluation which calls on governments to
urgently commit to delivering significant Basin Plan projects, including the Sustainable Diversion
Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDL AM) suite of projects.

“We remain concerned that failure to achieve the SDL AM projects to deliver the 605GL by the
2024 timeline, particularly the more challenging projects, will see future governments move to
acquire water from the productive pool.

“We acknowledge the complexity of several SDL AM projects and the difficulty in delivering
these remaining elements of the Basin Plan by the deadlines set, as noted by the Productivity
Commission Five Yearly Review, the Sefton Review and the Water for the Environment Special
Account Review.

“NIC has consistently highlighted that if it is unlikely the challenging projects can be achieved
by the deadline, then decisions should be made now on how the Plan progresses, including
whether alternative SDL AM projects need to be considered to ensure the 605GL target is met.

“The MDBA has acknowledged there is still work to be done, including SDL AM projects and
completion of water resource plans, but we remain committed to the Plan to ensure water is
available for productive and environmental uses, the needs of First Nations, and to support a
healthy river system and local communities.

“We support the Evaluation’s recommendations in-principle and will continue to work in a
constructive way with the MDBA and with all Basin Governments.”


Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890