The RGA made the call, ahead of Friday’s Basin minister’s meeting, in Mildura.
“The purpose of the Basin Plan is to improve the health of the Basin,” RGA president Jeremy Morton said.
“Productive water recovery is only one component of a suite of measures required to achieve Basin Plan objectives.”
He said Basin ministers must take a holistic approach, when considering how to achieve improved environmental outcomes, using the large parcels of environmental water currently available, including those belonging to the States.
“Basin Ministers must also agree to maximise the supply measures.
“A failure to do so will inflict further unnecessary damage to industries and communities in all Basin states, which is completely unacceptable.”
Mr Morton said that should have been the first step in implementing the plan, but it now appeared supply and complementary measures were being used as a political football.
He urged Basin ministers to bring the spirit of Federalism to their meeting, put aside politics and start working towards achieving an outcome that all could live with.
“It is essential that there is no damage to communities, no harm to industry and instead that, significant improvements to the health of the Basin are achieved,” he said.
“Thanks to the work completed by the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) in the north, and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) Leadership Forum in the south, we now have an understanding of the social and economic impacts of the Basin pPlan to our communities.
“The rice industry and others will be profoundly impacted if further water is taken out of production.
“The New South Wales and Victorian governments have recently commissioned an independent panel to review the modelling used to determine the total water recovery offset to be achieved by the proposed supply and complementary measures.”
The panel had already indicated a number of options for improving the model to ensure the water recovery offsets accurately reflected the environmental outcomes achieved, Mr Morton said.
“This is a great example of how respective states and political parties can put aside their differences and work towards achieving a realistic outcome.” he said.
“Uncertainty is undermining farm business confidence.
“Our farmers, industries and communities need certainty. They need a reassurance that the Basin Plan can be implemented without further productive water recovery and without further damage to our industries and communities.”