The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) has released its Federal election water policy calling for the next Parliament to stick with the Basin Plan; but do more to improve river habitat. 

CEO Steve Whan says “we need to ensure that environmental benefits of providing additional water are maximised. The Basin Plan will increase flow, but flow targets are not environmental outcomes .

“Additional water is wasted if it goes into – or creates – a habitat that is hostile to native species.  We want future Governments to build on the Basin Plan by funding complementary measures. These are things like eliminating cold water pollution, creating habitat conducive to native fish and tackling pest species.

“It is important for all candidates to back the role irrigation plays all over Australia. Policies need to recognise the importance of irrigated agriculture for the nation and for regional development. 

“Australia’s irrigators produce more than 84% of the vegetables, fruit and nuts Australian’s need and enjoy; along with most of our dairy products, rice, cotton and sugar. 

“In a climate as variable as ours we simply wouldn’t have fresh food without water storage and irrigation farmers.

“The Murray Darling Basin is a focus for many candidates – unfortunately, in this campaign, often the comments we are seeing are focused more on short term political gain than on achieving results.

“The Basin Plan has recently had a comprehensive review by the Productivity Commission. That report told us that there are good early environmental results, but huge challenges remaining – the review needs to form the core of how the next Government meets the challenges.

“We have five years to go in Basin Plan implementation. It’s been a tough process, but it is critical that this election does not break the bipartisan commitment. 

“There have been 35 reports into the Basin Plan since it was introduced, no doubt there will be more, but if we want to achieve environmental results we need to keep implementing -not stopping to re-argue the most divisive and difficult parts.”

Media Contact:  Steve Whan 0429 780 883
30 April 2019

National Irrigators’ Council key policy points

  • Maintain Bi-partisan support for the Basin Plan and its implementation
  • Ensure that the full 605GL package of SDL Adjustment Mechanism measures are delivered.
  • Ensure the guarantee of no negative impact from 450GL efficiency measures program is met.
  • Retain the current legislated cap on water buybacks
  • Use the Productivity Commission five-year review of the Basin Plan as the basis for action on implementing the remaining elements of the Plan
  • Ensure Basin States have adequate resources for compliance regimes that assure confidence in the system for users, communities and the general public
  • Address delivery constraints and losses for water users on the Murray
  • Resolve over-recovery issues
  • Maximise community involvement, and build confidence, in environmental watering
  • Allocate an additional $500 million to put in place Complementary or non-flow Measures designed to enhance the river environment
  • Commit $20 million to upgrade river monitoring and measurement in the Murray Darling Basin including particularly the Northern Basin
  • Work to provide more comprehensive, timely and transparent water market information
  • Recognise the role irrigated agriculture plays in regional development and national income