National Farmers' Federation

Gillard pledge to fill water gap in Basin ‘positive’ say farmers

THE National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) welcomes today’s announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard that, if re-elected, the Government will invest new money to close any gap between the current water cap and any new water cap in the Murray-Darling Basin.
“Obviously, our first priority is to ensure balance in the new Basin Plan, between production and environmental needs,” NFF President David Crombie said.
“We maintain that a simplistic cut to irrigated water without accounting for existing environmental water and engineering solutions would unfairly slug farmers and, as a consequence, reduce Australia’s food production in the Basin, which produces 40% of all Australia’s food.
“The NFF has demanded that the Government and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) take all these elements into account before calculating the new cap. The Government and the MDBA should use all means to ensure any gap is minimal, through:
* The use of smart engineering works to deliver upfront environmental water, rather than making cuts and then working out how to get water to the environment; and
* Ensuring all environmental water (rather than being selective about different types of environmental water) is used to offset the gap between the current and any future cap on water extraction.
“If, after taking all these ingredients into account, a gap remains, then it is a very positive commitment that the Government will invest new money to close the gap, rather than hanging irrigators out to dry.”

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