National Farmers' Federation

Farmers call out misinformation on Basin Bill

Farming groups have come together in Canberra today to call out the misinformation peddled in Parliament this week regarding the Government’s rewrite of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

National Farmers’ Federation Chief Executive Tony Mahar said the fact the Government felt the need to stretch the truth just revealed how flawed the proposal is.

“We’ve seen the most unbelievable garbage peddled in the Parliament this week, and it’s adding fuel to the fire in Basin communities,” Mr Mahar said.

“If this is the Government’s approach they’re just going to deepen the anger and division already caused in the past fortnight.

“We want an outcome that restores bipartisanship, that brings all states back around the table, and that brings communities along. Telling porkies to sell a dud bill is a dreadful start.”

Furphy #1: ‘This is for the farmers and Basin communities that rely on a healthy river’

“If this is for farmers and Basin communities, then why are they protesting outside the Minister’s electorate office today?” Mr Mahar asked.

“Let me be clear on behalf of our members: this is not for us. This is not for the health of the river. It’s certainly not for the good of Basin communities.

“This bill is for marginal seats in South Australia.

“The reality for Basin communities is that they’ll see their local economies shrink by $855 million each and every year and shed 1,500 jobs.

“You can’t tell those people who’ll lose their jobs you’re doing this for them.”

Furphy #2: ‘We’re doing what the National Farmers’ Federation asked… and completing the Plan in full’

“This bill is not completing the Plan, it’s rewriting the plan.

“It’s true, farmers led by the NFF have supported the Plan since 2012. It was a painful compromise that we agreed to cop to restore the health of the river.

“This bill seeks to tear up that compromise. It removes the safeguards put there to protect communities.

“It’s upping the price after communities have already paid the bill.”

Furphy #3 ‘We’ve listened to irrigators and Basin communities’

“The Government sought the input of irrigation and farming groups on how to complete the plan painlessly.

“Those options to complete the plan without buybacks are still gathering dust, unread on the Minister’s desk.

“Then this week, we’ve been told we’ll have a tick and flick committee process, with no hearings in affected communities.

“This isn’t listening, it’s steamrolling.”

Furphy #4: ‘This is so South Australians have water when the next drought comes’

“Not one drop of this water will come out of a South Australian tap.

“Trying to sell South Australians the lie that this is about their drinking water is the lowest form of politics.

“This is water for the environment. If South Australians want to take a bath in it, they’ll have to do that in the river,” Mr Mahar explained.

Furphy #5: ‘We’ve been left with no choice’

“The Government wants us to believe that unlimited buybacks are their only option. That’s simply not true. 

“There are smarter ways to deliver the remaining gigalitres, and there are smarter ways to improve the health of the river – they’re all sitting unread on the Minister’s desk.

“You can’t measure the health of the river in gigalitres delivered and marginal seats won. We should be having an informed discussion about genuine environmental outcomes.”