Peak body opposes last minute water Bill deal ahead of Senate debate.
National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) is disappointed about the last-minute deal struck between
the Albanese Government and the Australian Greens to apparently ‘strengthen’ the
Restoring Our Rivers Bill with the addition of new amendments – none of which reflect any
socio-economic consideration of Basin communities.
This announcement has come before the Bill is to be debated in Parliament this week with no
transparency about the new proposed amendments, or the costs to existing and new
NIC agrees that a healthy and sustainable river system for everyone is imperative, however
the negative multiplier effects of removing 450GL of productive water from the system must
be taken into account.
NIC Chair, Jeremy Morton, is appealing to the remaining Senator crossbenches; Jacqui
Lambie Network, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, the Palmer United Party and Independent’s
Senator Van, Senator Pocock and Senator Thorpe, to consider protections for Basin
Communities when debating the Bill before the Parliamentary year ends this week.
“Powering forward with un-restricted water buybacks will have irreversible consequences on
“We saw this happen with the first round of water buybacks. The MDBA has detailed these
impacts. If this Bill passes, we will see it happen again.
“It’s like groundhog day, back to ‘no regrets buy backs’ for the Basin.”
This sentiment echoed across Basin communities last Tuesday and again today, with
coordinated rallies held across Southern NSW and Victoria asking the Government to
reconsider mandatory buybacks.
“Water alone is not the only solution for restoring health to the Basin’s waterways,” Mr Morton
“Initiatives that address invasive species in our waterways, riparian landscape management,
or programs to improve fish passage are some of the many other options that can be
explored to restore the rivers systems.
“Without clear opportunity for complementary measures, we won’t be able to achieve the
environmental results expected, even if the Government does recover a further 450GL of
The Restoring Our Rivers Bill was released in September 2023 with more than 120 stakeholders,
including National Irrigators’ Council putting forward submissions to the Committee with
various solutions to avoid further water buybacks.
The Bill is set to be debated in Parliament this week, with only a handful of senate
crossbenchers remaining to determine the future of regional irrigation communities and the
cost of future food for Australian’s.