Labor’s decision to vote to keep the Basin Plan going is a sensible move that enables everyone to get on with the tough job of implementation, says National Irrigators Council CEO, Steve Whan.

Steve Whan said “the Basin Plan was introduced with bipartisan support in 2012 and it is a credit to Minister Littleproud and Shadow Minister Burke that they have been able to keep it bipartisan. 

“Let’s be very clear about this. If the Plan had fallen over there was no Plan B.  It would have meant the river never seeing the full environmental benefit of the Basin Plan. Those benefits will take years, but as independent assessment has found, the early signs are encouraging.

“Destroying the Plan would have been incredibly short-sighted for the environment – let alone river communities.  But that would be the outcome if the Greens’ disallowance motion passed.

“The 2012 plan included, as an integral provision, up to 650GL worth of Sustainable Diversion Limit adjustment projects.  They deliver water to the environment and produce better environmental outcomes.

“There is a lot to do to get these projects implemented and Irrigators urge State Governments to engage extensively with communities and experts, to ensure they are successful. The risk of these projects sits essentially with Irrigators and communities – if they fail to produce the outcomes by 2024 further water will be recovered.

“As part of the agreement, the Government has made commitments recognising the needs of indigenous communities, progress toward the 450GL of ‘upwater’ and the work being done (with irrigator support) to ensure compliance.

“While the additional 450GL is something we have never sought, we accept that its inclusion in today’s agreement was essential to an agreement being forged. We will work with all Governments to make sure it is implemented with no negative impacts on communities as promised in 2012.

“We recognise that when a compromise is made (as happens in a democracy) we can’t just pick out the bits we like. This compromise enabled the plan to continue and irrigators will engage in good faith in getting the job done, even though there are elements we would rather not have.

“There is also plenty of hard work for Basin State Governments.

“Irrigators have always supported a triple bottom line outcome from the Basin Plan: healthy rivers, healthy communities and a continuing capacity to produce food and fibre for Australia.”

Media Contact:  Steve Whan 0429 780 883

Monday 7 May 2018