The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) welcomes the establishment of a ministerial group that will investigate water infrastructure projects, announced today by the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce. Chair of the NFF Water Taskforce, Les Gordon, said a focus on water infrastructure is necessary to help address Australia’s agricultural sustainability. “Infrastructure investment, including in water, must continue to grow to promote increased capacity and development in Australia’s rural and regional areas,” said Mr Gordon. “For some time now, the NFF has called for the identification of priorities, investment and processes to fast-track infrastructure development that provides real returns for agribusinesses. “The fact that a specific ministerial group is looking at water gives us reassurance that broader rural infrastructure needs are on the government agenda,” Mr Gordon said. The ministerial group has committed to develop an options paper by July 2014, so that it can be considered as part of both the Northern Australia White Paper and the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. “We are confident that the group will strike a good balance between fast-tracking projects and ensuring there are robust business cases for new developments,” said Mr Gordon. “Long-term social, economic and environmental sustainability must be at the forefront. It is sensible that the group is not just looking at new dams, but is considering options like water harvesting and more efficient ways of delivering water to farmers. “We’re looking forward to seeing the options paper in July. The NFF is in the midst of preparing submissions to the white papers relating to agriculture, and appreciates the concerted focus on water infrastructure as part of those processes,” Mr Gordon said. For further information, refer to the Minister for Agriculture’s http://www.maff.gov.au/Pages/Media%20Releases/australia-future-water-needs.aspx[media release].