National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) has today welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement of a suite of outcomes-focused environmental projects under the first round of the Murray-Darling Healthy Rivers Program.

NIC Chief Executive Officer Isaac Jeffrey said: “The National Irrigators’ Council has long advocated for practical projects which improve the health of our rivers and wetlands.

“The Murray-Darling Healthy Rivers Program announcement by the Federal Government, includes investment in better creek and floodplain management, erosion mitigation and revegetation works, mechanisms to protect landscapes from feral pigs, fencing waterways and restocking native fish, weed removal and aquatic vegetation restoration.

“This approach affirms NIC’s strong advocacy around the need for greater innovation to deliver the best environmental outcomes through measures to support river systems by improving riparian zones, eradicating weeds around creeks, feral animal mitigation and restoring native fish habitat.

”The Productivity Commission and Sefton reviews provided clear recommendations relating to complementary measures and waterways management to achieve improved environmental outcomes while reducing the collateral damage to regional communities.

“Just adding water, as a single tool, is not going to secure the best environmental outcomes for our rivers and waterways,” Mr Jeffrey said.

“References to a ‘flow’ must be seen as an input and not an outcome. ‘Flow targets’ should be described as delivering environmental outcomes, not simply volumes. Extracted water for the environment needs to be metered for accountability, but also measured and assessed in terms of its actual benefits for local communities.

“Complementary measures are also now incorporated in the Northern Basin Toolkit with projects focused on the installation of fishways to improve native fish access to aquatic habitat in the Barwon-Darling river system and Border Rivers region of New South Wales and Queensland.

“NIC is calling on the Federal Government to continue its investment in these complementary measures and to measure and report on environmental outcomes.

“The irrigated agriculture sector will continue to be strong advocates for our industries and our local economies, for improved environmental outcomes and for our local communities.”

Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890