The Basin Water Ministers Council (MinCo) meets this week to discuss finalising the Basin Plan
and it must deliver on its promises to regional communities, businesses, workers and the
NIC CEO Isaac Jeffrey said: “Businesses need certainty to invest and employ workers.
Changing goalposts creates uncertainty, fosters distrust and heightens sensitivities. MinCo
can’t go back on their word or they risk destabilising industries and communities throughout
the Murray-Darling Basin.
“Let’s not forget, the Basin is responsible for producing around 40% of our food and fibre, and
generates $22 billion at the farmgate with the multiplier in our communities and economy
increasing that figure to around $80 billion. That’s jobs. That’s businesses. That’s food on
plates. That’s clothes on backs.
“New South Wales and Victoria need more time to deliver their Sustainable Diversion Limit
Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) projects and to potentially add new projects. MinCo must
agree to this new timeframe and new projects, if needed, to ensure they collectively deliver
on their promises to our irrigation communities and deliver these projects to avoid further
buybacks. Reconciliation of the Plan must also be brought into line with these new
“MinCo promised neutral or positive socio-economic benefits of water recovery under the
Efficiency Measures (450 GL) program. If they walk away from this commitment, it would be a
significant betrayal of our regions. It would also have a major impact on government
budgets and would arguably not deliver any real, tangible outcomes for the environment.
Just adding water isn’t going to deliver results.
“Governments must realise there are better ways to achieve outcomes. The fixation on
volumes must end and all stakeholders need to continue to work together to get real
outcomes which can be achieved through infrastructure investment and complementary
measures. Direct action, direct results. Not pour water and hope.
“Buybacks risk local jobs. They risk local businesses. They risk our long-term food and fibre
security. And, they risk adding further to the cost of living pressures being faced by all
Australians. Less water in the system will force up the price of water. Higher business input
costs make it more difficult to stay in business and employ people, and trade with other
businesses up and down the supply chain. For those who stay in the industry, costs will be
passed on meaning buybacks are essentially a tax on fruit, nuts, grapes, vegetables, rice,
cotton, dairy and sugar which will be felt by all Australians.
“MinCo must extend the timelines, deliver their projects and rule out buybacks. There are
better ways to deliver real outcomes for the environment, while protecting our local jobs,
businesses and communities, and keeping the pressure off inflation and cost of living.”
More information on NIC’s Basin Plan Position can be found here:
Ends. Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890 firstname.lastname@example.org