The National Irrigators’ Council acknowledges and welcomes the Murray-Darling Basin Plan
Review Roadmap released today at River Reflections by Sir Angus Houston, MDBA Chair.
NIC CEO Isaac Jeffrey said: “All Australians are connected to the Murray-Darling Basin,
whether they know it or not. Forty percent of our farms, over $22 billion is economic activity at
the farmgate, thousands of direct and indirect jobs, and the vast majority of the irrigated
produce which hits our dinner plates and clothes us is grown in the Basin.
“The Plan has been a vital tool in balancing the needs of our communities, our environment
and our productive sector. It hasn’t always got it right, but it has achieved a great deal since
its inception. The Plan’s review is fundamentally important to assess how it has operated to
date and how it can operate into the future to ensure we can keep our rivers and
communities healthy and thriving, while feeding and clothing Australia and the world.
“In releasing the Roadmap, Sir Angus noted the review will be underpinned by science and
research. NIC supports this commitment with a strong recommendation that the science
must include socio-economic modelling and impact analysis.
“The Roadmap sets four important focus areas for the Outlook, Evaluation and Review of the
Plan: climate change; sustainable water limits; cultural water; and, regulatory design. Sir
Angus noted the likelihood of hotter and drier conditions, while noting the extremes in
weather we could face.
“The Plan to date has been tarnished by its unyielding focus on volumes. It was welcome to
hear the MDBA is considering how to set sustainable water limits using alternate models
which are not just focused on volumes. NIC has repeatedly called for flexibility and a focus
on outcomes, not volumes, so we applaud this common-sense approach.
“The third focus area is on cultural water, which includes water management and ownership.
NIC has supported the $40 million allocation for First Nations water ownership and
encourages the Government to get this money out the door and into communities as soon
as possible. We also support further engagement and involvement of First Nations peoples in
the management of our river systems, and are keen to see more First Nations businesses
operating within the Basin, so we welcome this focus from the MDBA.
“The final pillar of the Review is a focus on regulatory design. Sir Angus noted the need to
have a “fair pitch” with the right rules in place, while looking at ways to simplify the Plan and
make it more user friendly. NIC welcomes this commitment. Our farmers just want to get on
with running their businesses and growing food and fibre. They want to be compliant and act
within the rules, without being burdened by copious amounts of red tape and financial
“Given the failures of some government agencies to date on genuine consultation, NIC
applauds the MDBA for setting out this Roadmap and getting it out early for people to
consider, and for its commitment to genuinely consult with all Basin stakeholders. Only
through listening can they actually know the impact of their decisions.”

Ends. Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890