Stop the Basin politicking, irrigators

Basin politicking needs to stop, say irrigators


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Political wrangling over the Murray Darling Basin Plan was leading to great uncertainty for irrigators.

Politicking over the Murray Darling Basin Plan was causing great uncertainty for Victorian irrigators, according to farmers across the north.

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Murrabit dairy farmer and Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) water council member, Andrew Leahy said the northern Basin disallowance motion was unlikely to have a significant impact on Victorian irrigators.

‘But it’s a precedent for them to do the same thing here,” Mr Leahy said.

The Senate was yet to debate the disallowance of the 605 gigalitres of Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) environmental projects and irrigators said those plans were also now in jeopardy.

“If the plan does fall over, what are the ramifications?

“What does it mean for the Connections money, from the Federal Government? Is that locked in?” 

Boort crop grower John Nelson said Victoria could not afford to lose any more water.

‘It’s become close to becoming unviable, that’s the fact of the matter,” Mr Nelson said.

“All states, including South Australia, agreed it should go ahead and have for some time now. Now they’ve thrown a rock in the job.”

SDL CONCERNS: Disallowance of amendments to the Northern Murray Darling Basin plan could set a precedent for the southern Basin, according to Murrabit dairy farmer Andrew Leahy.

SDL CONCERNS: Disallowance of amendments to the Northern Murray Darling Basin plan could set a precedent for the southern Basin, according to Murrabit dairy farmer Andrew Leahy.

He said while the Plan wasn’t perfect, there was give and take required of all parties involved.

“We could have let it run and given it a trial, then reviewed it in a few years time.”

Central Goulburn Water Services Committee chair Peter Hacon said it was “just a continuation of political grandstanding.

He said it was “environmental hypocrisy” to keep drying out wetlands, to claim small gains in water recovery.

“We need to weigh the losses, against the gains,” he said.

Echuca hay and stock feed grower Glenn Murrells said uncertainty would affect investment.

‘You just never know when it’s all going to come to fruition, it’s just more uncertainty and you just don’t know where you stand,” Mr Murrells said.

“You just never know when someone is coming to come back with something else and change it all again.

“You can’t invest, or continue to invest, if they goal posts keep shifting.”

He said South Australia seemed to want more and more water.

“They are like the squeaky wheel, making a noise, and everyone is bending to them.

“You can’t just keep taking the way they are taking, there will be nothing left in these river towns.”

Blighty, New South Wales, dairy farmer Malcolm Holm agreed the uncertainty about the future of the plan was the greatest challenge.

“If (Opposition Water spokesman) Tony Bourke, South Australian Senator Penny Wong and the Greens are going to play politics with it, why did we start this process, in the first place,” Mr Holm said.

‘The MDBA did a study and that was presented to the Water Ministers and they all agreed on it. Effectively the ministerial council has been sidelined by the politics of Federal Labor.

‘The politics of it is appalling.”

He said he was concerned about the future of the SDLs and the proposed further 450GL of environmental upwater.

“As a dairy farmer, who watches it pretty closely, I am pretty dismayed.”

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