National Farmers' Federation

Government must prevent flooding of Murray-Darling Basin farms

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has sent a clear message to the Commonwealth and State Governments that it will not stand idly by if farms are unnecessarily flooded due to rushed planning timeframes to implement the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP). The NFF today lodged its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the MDBP highlighting farmers’ concerns about plans to move huge amounts of water through farmland as part of the next phase of the MDBP implementation. NFF Water Taskforce Chair Les Gordon called for better consultation by State Governments and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to ensure local knowledge is used to ‘ground truth’ assumptions of Canberra-based water planners. “We are very concerned about the lack of local input and the rushed timeframe around the Sustainable Diversion Limited (SDL) adjustment projects. This is a huge amount of water to move over very dry and undulating landscapes,” Mr Gordon said. “Local farmers are experts in moving water through this country and we should be fully consulted on how it should happen locally so that farms are not unnecessarily flooded.” The NFF submission also highlights the significant social and economic impacts of the MDBP on farming communities. “We have long called for a comprehensive approach: one in which the needs of the affected communities and the economy are balanced with the needs of the environment,” Mr Gordon said. “Unfortunately, what we have seen in recent years, is a lack of understanding around the need for an equitable outcome for all, be it the environment, economy, farmers and regional communities. “Local knowledge is essential to inform the policy development process: the Australian Government is too far removed from MDB communities to implement effective engagement strategies at this level. They should partner with industry groups or Catchment Management Authorities to facilitate catchment scale consultation processes that will help to resolve ongoing tensions between government and farmers.” Drawn up in consultation with farmer groups across the nation, the NFF submission outlines a number of practical proposals that will: • improve the capacity and resilience of MDB farming communities to adapt to the MDBP; • provide property assessments for farmers concerned about flood risks; and • open up new dialogue about contentious issues, such as the Lower Lakes in SA; and • enable government to use local expertise to mitigate risks of SDL adjustment projects. “Our submission provides solutions to ongoing problems that have plagued the MDBP since day one. We look forward to a two-way dialogue with the Government and MDBA on the issues raised in our submission,” Mr Gordon said. A copy of the NFF Submission is available http://www.nff.org.au/get/submissions/5098.pdf[here].

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