National Farmers' Federation

Bi-partisan support needed to quash Green's Basin stunt and sure up Plan's future

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is calling for bi-partisan support to stem an attempt by the Greens to block the 605GL sustainable diversion limit (SDL) for the southern Murray Darling Basin.
Greens water spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will introduce a disallowance motion to this effect to the Senate next week, when the Parliament returns for the Federal Budget.
In February, the Greens were successful in convincing the Senate to block measures recommended in the Northern Basin Review, including a recommendation to reduce water recovery targets from 390 gigalitres to 320GL.
The move saw New South Wales and Victoria declare their intention to withdraw their involvement in the historic national water plan.
“This is yet another shameful stunt by the Greens to score political points at the expense of the environment, farmers and regional communities,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.
“The SDL provisions, like the Northern Basin Review, are a process that goes to the heart of the Plan. Moves to disregard, ignore or frustrate such processes stand to significantly compromise the Plan as a whole.”
Ms Simson said the Murray Darling Basin Plan was always envisaged to be a dynamic document, a concept she said, the Greens seemingly could not grasp.
“The Plan is a complex agreement that contains a range of compromises which have varying impacts across the Basin.
“When it was finalised in 2012, no stakeholders, including farmers, got all
they wanted nor did they loose all they sought to protect.”
The 605GL SDL proposal was developed independently as a key component of a suite of measures to accumulate environmental water.
“It is a measure that will benefit the environment and is consistent with a multidimensional approach to Basin health,” Ms Simson said.
Ms Simson, said contrary to sentiment from the Greens, the Plan was more complicated than measuring in-flows.
“Senator Hanson-Young’s claimed principal grounds for the disallowance including, that Coorong and Lower Lakes are dying and that the 605GL will be ‘ripped off the environment’, are disingenuous at best.
“Recent reports such as ‘Icon Site Condition – The Living Murray’ and processes like the ‘Long Term Intervention Monitoring Plan’ demonstrate that the Plan is being implemented, monitored and importantly, is delivering its intended outcomes.”
Ms Simson said the Murray Darling Basin Plan was at a crossroads.
“The direction taken from here, and the fortunes of the Plan, is now in the hands of the Parliament.
“The NFF, on behalf of farmers, is calling for the continuation of bipartisan support for the Plan.
“The key indicator of this bipartisan support is opposition to the 605GL SDL disallowance motion.
“The environment, farmers and regional communities deserve calm and measured decisions to be taken to ensure the Plan is delivered in full.
“Allowing the 605GL measures to proceed is a critical component of this implementation.”

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