National Farmers' Federation

Farmers praise important environmental reform in Federal Parliament this week

The National Farmers’ Federation commends the passage of two important pieces of environmental reform this week: the Inspector-General of Water Compliance Bill and the Standards and Assurance Bill.

“Environmental reform is critical, and it is important to get it right,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.

“The Standards and Assurance Bill is the first step towards reform. The Bill will establish a framework to develop national environmental standards consistent with the Samuel review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity (EPBC) Act.

Mr Mahar said the NFF would continue to engage in the process outlined in Minister Ley’s timeline.

“This Bill is about creating certainty and making sure the standards can first be tested on ground and implemented properly and then strengthened.”

“The current EPBC Act is all stick and no carrot. Australian farmers are our best environmental stewards, but there is little to no support in the Act to incentivise support for environmental management. The top-down approach of the current Act has failed and we need change.”

“The NFF is focused on ensuring regional planning and establishing market-based mechanisms are central to national environmental reform.”

The Standards and Assurance Bill will now go to the Senate.

The NFF also welcomes the passage of the Inspector-General of Water Compliance Bill in the Senate.

“This is a significant step in restoring the confidence of Basin communities and the wider public in how water is managed across the Basin.”

“Amendments proposed by the Nationals would have added greater clarity to what are largely the Basin Ministerial Council and Commonwealth’s current disposition towards the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, including the ability to establish new supply projects; support complementary measures; recognise the difficulty of completing certain supply projects by 2024, and guarantee no further buybacks.”

The Inspector-General of Water Compliance Bill responds to key recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s five-yearly review of the Basin Plan to separate compliance functions from the Murray-Darlin Basin Authority and supports the Basin Compliance Compact between basin states and territories.

“It has been two years since the then Water Minister David Littleproud announced a ‘cop on the beat’ for the country’s largest river network.”

“Water management is a collective responsibility of Basin states, territories and individuals. This Act responds to critical concerns of those communities.”

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