National Farmers' Federation

NFF urges passing of 1500GL cap on water buybacks

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today called for a strong bipartisan effort to deliver the 1500 gigalitre cap on water buybacks under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan through its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Water Amendment Bill 2015. “The cap on water buybacks is absolutely necessary to avoid serious political retribution from Murray-Darling Basin communities who have already felt significant economic and social impacts from previous water reforms and reduced water availability,” said NFF Water Taskforce Chair Les Gordon. “A legislated cap would be an important signal from all sides of the political spectrum to these communities that it values their views, understands the impacts, and is prepared to stand up and do something about it. “We will continue to seek support from Labor and the crossbench to secure the passage of legislation through the Senate to enshrine the cap as law,” Mr Gordon said. According to a study commissioned by Dairy Australia in 2012, buybacks of irrigator entitlements cost the Australian Government around $2000/megalitre (ML) and reduce regional economic activity by around $4300 for every ML purchased. Alternatively, water efficiency measures that cost the Australian Government about $3700/ ML deliver $9800/ML worth of increased farm productivity and generate additional regional economic activity worth $6200/ML. “Leaving water in production means that less jobs will be lost on farms and important downstream processing industries. It is this employment on our farms, in our milk factories, our rice mills, cotton gins, wineries, and nut and fruit processing facilities that provides the economic and social backbone of many communities in the Basin,” Mr Gordon said. Ongoing speculation over how water is to be allocated coupled with previous experiences of secrecy and poor communication from the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has caused ongoing uncertainty and discontent within the Basin’s agricultural communities. “Basin communities have a need and right to know what the Basin Plan will deliver and what mix of policy and programs will be used to meet requirements. Any further delays by the Government in passing these amendments is likely to cause significant further upheaval and distress in these MDB communities,” Mr Gordon said. The NFF will continue to work with the Government on a long-term policy framework, including adaptions through water efficiency projects in preference to short-term initiatives like water buybacks. A copy of the NFF Submission is available http://www.nff.org.au/get/submissions/5018.pdf[here].

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