National Farmers' Federation

NFF initial response to the SA Royal Commission report into the Murray Darling Basin

The NFF has today received the South Australia Royal Commissioner’s report into the Murray Darling Basin.
The report, at 746 pages, will take some time to digest.
NFF President Fiona Simson noted that the report focuses on the legal validity of the Plan and is unnervingly emotive, not what would normally be expected from a Royal Commission.
“This validity issue is a matter that will need to be resolved through appropriate processes, we note that Solicitor General advice at the time maintains a different view,” Ms Simson said.
“The presumption that the plan is not legally valid flows through to a number of recommendations, which cannot be progressed until or if the validity is resolved.”
The Basin Plan was passed six years ago by the Federal Parliament with strong bipartisan support and with the support of all other basin governments.
The NFF welcomes the acknowledgement by the Commissioner that it will be commercially attractive to utilise allocated water to grow irrigated crops such as cotton and rice and correctly recognises that this is the market at work. The report also appropriately rejects the assertion that these crops should be demonised.
Ms Simson said the recently released Productivity Commission five yearly review of the implementation of the plan contains reflections and recommendations that can be progressed immediately and is a much more proactive, balanced and robust report.
The plan has had at least 35 reviews, 14 of which were independent, since its inception in 2012. It is due for full implementation by 2024 and is just over half way through, nevertheless already over 2,000 GL of water has been acquired for the environment that was not available pre plan.
“The plan has always been a compromise, despite this it should be implemented. This is a once in a generation reform that corrects 100 years of overuse, and will take a generation to achieve. It deserves the ongoing support of all Australians,” Ms Simson said.

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