As council meets for first time, VFF says Murray Darling Basin Plan needs to adapt

Peak body stresses need for new council to be flexibile in Basin Plan

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Richard Anderson, Victorian Farmers Federation Water Council chair.

Richard Anderson, Victorian Farmers Federation Water Council chair.

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VFF says Basin Plan needs to be adaptable and improved as new information comes to hand.

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This week marks a critical milestone for the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

We have our first Murray-Darling Ministerial Council for 2020 with our new Commonwealth Water Minister, Keith Pitt, chairing his first meeting.

The Basin Plan has often been described as an adaptive plan. But, 12 years on, this has been forgotten by those responsible for its implementation.

Whenever there is a suggestion that there are problems with the Plan, the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and the Commonwealth 'doubles down' and says the Plan must be implemented in full - ignoring what was originally intended.

They willfully interpret any suggestion that the Plan needs to be improved and adapt to new information as a call to abandon it.

Adapting the Plan by incorporating new scientific knowledge and practical learnings is not abandoning the Plan, but doing what the legislators anticipated and what the community expects.

The Water Act 2007 sets out a detailed process for amending the Plan to incorporate practical learnings.

It is critical the Plan be adapted now to ensure agriculture can have some certainty over its future and farm with confidence.

The pandemic has shown the importance of agriculture in keeping people in jobs and securing food for the nation and the world.

Australia's recovery out of the pandemic will be dependent on the number of jobs we can create.

Agriculture is one of the largest employers in regional and rural areas. But jobs in agriculture have been declining because of the Basin Plan and the reduction in the amount of water available for productive agriculture and jobs.

The message is simple - farmers need confidence and certainty to grow their businesses and create and retain the jobs our country desperately needs.

We can only gain this certainty and grow agriculture if the Basin Plan adapts.

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