National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) CEO, Steve Whan, says Basin Ministers have listened to their communities in reaching a positive outcome from their meeting in Canberra.

Steve Whan said “this week NIC and the National Farmers Federation wrote to Ministers calling on them to develop better socio-economic impact criteria for efficiency programs, and saying that there should not be any on-farm programs without the relevant State Government’s support.

“We indicated that in moving to achieve the 450GL of so called ‘up-water’ set out in the Basin Plan we were happy to see off-farm programs including urban and industrial water savings.

“It was very pleasing to see that Ministers have made an agreement that is consistent with our very reasonable requests.

“The MinCo outcome includes a pathway to getting efficiency savings for the ‘up-water’ but there will be no on-farm efficiency program in the NSW and Victorian Southern Basin at least until a more comprehensive test of impact on communities is agreed.

“NSW and Victoria are likely to lead work on that test with outcomes expected by around the end of this year.

“Importantly this outcome is consistent with the agreement made recently between the Federal Government and the Opposition. There is a commitment to progress the ‘up-water’, real projects getting underway and a timetable for full delivery.

“I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to develop programs in consultation with communities. A one-size-fits-all on-farm efficiency program was never going to work, when you have such big variations in how communities work, and how they have been affected.

“Nobody, for example, should be surprised that people from the Wakool area are deeply concerned about any more water going from production in their area. They have already lost 38% of the productive water they had prior to the Basin Plan, that has a massive impact on economic activity and population, and any future program for that area has to take that into account.

“It is pleasing that NSW Minister, Niall Blair, and Victorian Minister, Lisa Neville, brought such a strong understanding of those type of communities to the meeting and that all Ministers have signed on to an outcome which keeps us on a practical course to delivering the Basin Plan.”

Media Contact: Steve Whan 0429 780 883
Friday 8 June 2018