Federal Government Tears Up Basin Plan

Federal Government Tears Up Basin Plan
Share this post


The Federal Government has effectively torn up the 2012 Basin Plan with its decision this month to introduce buybacks towards the 450 GL for the first time.

It goes well beyond what the Labor Government approved in 2012 with bipartisan support, that the States signed up to, and the community trusted to be the rules and limits to minimize negative socioeconomic impacts.

Then Federal Water Minister Tony Burke was unequivocal in an October 2012 Country Hour interview. He stipulated the rule was the 450 GL “can only happen through methods that have no downside socially or economically.”

He added none of the 450 GL money would be used for buybacks, “because the authority’s [MDBA] reached a very strong conclusion that if you did it through general buybacks, you do get downsides [for] the local community”.

History has shown buybacks do have severe social and economic consequences, and do distort the water market with higher water prices driving up the cost of growing food and fibre.

Furthermore, more water recovery from farmers will not address what are now the primary environmental degradation drivers, such as invasive species like carp, habitat deterioration, obstructions to fish migration, absence of fish screens on pumps, and contamination from cold water. Many scientists are advocating for a refocus on these drivers if the Basin Plan’s desired ecological advantages are to be realized.

The Government recently called for innovative ideas to address these challenges. Communities engaged in good faith, proposing constructive options that showcased the potential to achieve the Plan’s desired environmental outcomes without resorting to further buybacks.

Instead, expanding buybacks remains the only option the Government has put on the table. It is a massive breach of Basin community trust.

Claire Miller NSWIC CEO

Comment. NSW has agreed to participate in the new Basin Plan, including the purchase of the additional 450 gigalitres of water. This will further decimate the Riverina’s irrigation industry, dependent livelihoods, and people.

Victoria has not yet agreed to the legislation. I believe this is not to protect Victorians in the affected areas, but is intended to wrangle more money out of the Federal Government as the price of their permission.

The only reason NSW and Victoria permit the Federal Government to manage the water is because the Federal Government pays them a lot of money to do so. The public should not think that they permit it because they think the Fed’s are more capable than the States.

Only a Riverina State will protect the livelihoods of the people in the Riverina!

David Landini


Share this post