National Farmers' Federation

Government commits to Basin Plan cap: a win for farmers

In a win for farmers and rural communities in the Murray-Darling Basin, the Federal Government has confirmed that it will cap water purchases under the Basin Plan – news welcomed by the nation’s peak farmer body, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).
The cap, confirmed by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Simon Birmingham in an interview with the Australian newspaper, will see water buybacks limited to 1,500 gigalitres – 1,137 gigalitres of which has already been purchased by the former Government.
Duncan Fraser, President of the NFF, says the confirmation is great news for farmers and Basin communities.
“We’ve been extremely vocal in our call for a cap on water purchases under the Basin Plan, as we know that irrigation infrastructure creates efficiencies that trump water buybacks hands down,” Mr Fraser said.
“We were very pleased when the then-Opposition Leader Tony Abbott committed to capping water buybacks under the Basin Plan back in December – and its excellent to see this promise translating into policy now that the Coalition is in Government.
“We strongly welcome the comments made by Senator Birmingham that the buybacks will be phased over six years, rather than the original plan of four, and that spending will be prioritised on infrastructure projects that deliver improvements in water efficiency.
“As we and our member bodies know, and as recent reports illustrate, investing in infrastructure and making the water in the system more efficient will mean a far better outcome for farmers and for rural communities than water buybacks – while still ensuring water is provided to the environment to ensure its sustainability.
“As we have always said, the Basin Plan must balance the social, economic and environmental needs of the Basin, and we’re pleased to see the Government agrees,” Mr Fraser said.

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