National Farmers' Federation

Water Bill 2007 reflects farmer priorities – IGA now critical: NFF

THE National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) – which has enjoyed rare access to the formation of the legislation to overhaul management of the Murray-Darling Basin – has announced that farmers’ concerns have been substantially addressed and reflected in the final Bill presented to federal parliament today.
“Following a three-hour meeting with Minister Turnbull last week, we sought key amendments to the Water Bill 2007 – overwhelmingly these are now reflected in the legislation,” NFF President David Crombie said.
The NFF sought, and received written assurances, from the Minister for Environment and Water Resources The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP to secure our objectives, including:
* Property rights and risk assignment,
* stock and domestic rights,
* pricing issues, and
* representation of water users.
“The Water Bill 2007 provides the constitutional framework to enforce the cap on diversions from the Basin and puts in place a planning process to manage the Basin into the future,” Mr Crombie said.
“However, given the constitutional approach in framing the Water Bill 2007, and the failure to date of state and federal governments to reach agreement, the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) is now the crucial missing element required to guide the effective management of water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin.
“The IGA will govern state and federal relations, guide the $10 billion investment and will also be important to ensure existing water sharing plans are respected by State and Federal governments.
“The principal outcomes of the Prime Minister’s National Plan for Water Security cannot be effectively delivered unless Federal and State Governments can agree on the strings attached to federal funding.
“The NFF will continue its forthright leadership and advice to inform the development of these essential water reforms. Today’s legislation provides one bridge, but there are more rivers to cross before the plan can be successfully implemented… we are making progress and the way forward is clear.”

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