The National Irrigators’ Council has today welcomed Minister Plibersek’s announcement that
the timelines will be extended to finalise the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
NIC CEO Isaac Jeffrey said: “Today’s announcement is a credit to Minister Plibersek and her
pragmatic approach to finalising the Basin Plan. NIC has been calling for this timeline
extension and we are thankful the Minister has agreed to do so.
“This timeline extension means Basin communities can avoid the absolute devastation which
would come from water buybacks – which would hurt regional communities through job,
business and economic losses. They would also hurt all Australians at the checkout as higher
water prices and lower production puts upward pressure on cost of living.
“It is now up to the States to get out into communities, consult, finalise project plans and get
their Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) projects, delayed by floods
and COVID, delivered within these new timeframes.
“The Minister has received a raft of ideas through the latest Department consultation process
on finalising the Basin Plan and it is important they are all considered to find new ways of
meeting the Basin targets without the need for buybacks.
“NIC put forward a number of ideas, including investment in infrastructure, complementary
measures and partnerships, designed to add flexibility and focus on achieving outcomes. We
encourage the Minister to implement these under both the SDLAM and Efficiency Measures
programs to finalise the Plan within the new timeframes.
“The Ministerial Council (MinCo) is still to agree these time extensions, but we encourage
them to do so. We also ask MinCo to hold true to its commitment to regional communities of
socio-economic neutrality for the Efficiency Measures program. It’s just commonsense that
public policy shouldn’t harm communities or our economy, and that applies to Basin policy
“Farmers want to see healthy rivers and wildlife, healthy and happy communities, and a
thriving productive sector which flows into other associated and value-add industries. NIC
asks all Members of Parliament and Senators, and the State Parliaments, to back this change
to the timelines to ensure we can deliver a good, balanced and sensible plan.
“NIC looks forward to working with Basin Governments to finalise the Plan and to the
continuing outcomes for the productive sector, the environment and local communities,
which are already being achieved under the Basin Plan.”
Ends. Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey, 0407 083 890,