Does anyone really think Government should tell farmers what they can grow, or ‘ban’ exports? Steve Whan, CEO of the National Irrigators’ Council says the Centre Alliance’s ridiculous suggestion of banning cotton export is more in keeping with a soviet style command economy than an outward looking modern democracy.

Steve Whan said “the bottom line in this argument, is that it is the amount of water extracted that matters, not what it is used to grow.

“It is a ludicrous suggestion to ban export crops. If the same was applied to South Australia, their economy would crash into depression. Just last week the South Australian Minister released figures showing “primary industries are the state’s largest export sector, accounting for over half of the state’s merchandise exports, and a major employer.”

“South Australia’s irrigators generate nearly $2 billion a year for their State. How would they and Senator Patrick feel if politicians in other states called on them to be closed down?

“Without Murray Darling irrigation South Australia would have no wine industry, no nut and fruit exports and very little capacity to even grow its own vegetables.

“That’s what makes it a complete gutless disgrace to see a South Australian
politician targeting a crop that is not grown at all in their state, knowing that all the pain of lost income and jobs will be in States who don’t vote for them.

“If other State’s politicians took this parochial and selfish approach then the taxpayers of Queensland and NSW would never have contributed their hard-earned tax dollars to bailing out South Australia after the car industry closed down, or spending billions extra to build submarines.

“Right now, most cotton growing areas have zero general security allocation, that means there is only a very small amount of water available from sources like carry-over or ground water. Most growers will make massive losses this year.

“Cotton is just one valuable crop grown in the Murray Darling Basin – when water is available. It makes no difference if the water extracted is used for cotton, or for tomatoes or hemp. What matters is getting the extraction levels right. That is what the Basin Plan is trying to do. “

Media Contact: Steve Whan 0429 780 883
Monday 4 February 2019