National Farmers' Federation

Basin report warns of risks of not implementing recommended changes

The National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed the release of the Productivity Commission’s five-year assessment of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
This review is a statutory requirement and includes the need for a stakeholder reference group to be convened as a key part of the consultations.
The review group included representatives from a broad range of stakeholders including industry, environment and indigenous communities.
“The NFF sees this report as a key plank for the successful implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” NFF Water Taskforce Chair Les Gordon said.
The report addresses a number of current concerns including: management of resources during low flows (a contributor to the recent Menindee fish death event); governance of the Basin (there are recommendations regarding splitting the Murray-Darling Basin Authority); and recovering the remainder of environmental water.
“The NFF will work closely with a range of stakeholders to consider ways to sensibly implement a number of recommendations whilst maintaining the intent and integrity of the Plan.”
The Productivity Commission was tasked with this responsibility by the Treasurer, as is the normal practice. The Commission is required to undertake independent, highly consultative and robust analysis against a comprehensive terms of reference.
“This report has taken almost a year to complete with two rounds of formal submissions, regional and formal consultations, and input from a number of responsible agencies.
“It is as comprehensive and robust as any independent review process could be expected to be,” Mr Gordon said.
“As is the case with all things Plan-related, not everyone will be happy with all of the recommendations, but this should not detract from the report’s independence and probity value.”
Mr Gordon said the NFF acknowledged the short turnaround from the Treasurer and the Agriculture and Water Minister in getting this report released in less than a month from receiving it.
“It reflects an acknowledgement of the importance of the report in light of the current Murray-Darling debate, as reflected in the below apt comments contained in the report.”
‘It has been a real achievement for Basin Governments to get this far, but without the recommended changes, the implementation of the Plan is at risk.
Delivering on the objectives of the Plan is vital to a region that is of significant environmental, cultural, social and economic importance to Australia.’

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