Basin Plan Consultation - The joke's on us!

26 Oct 2012 12:22 PM - RGA Media Release

The Federal Government has today made an announcement which proves it has caved in to the South Australian Government. The same state Government which has continually and convincingly shown no interest in working with all other stakeholders in the Murray Darling Basin to reach a balanced and responsible outcome.

President of the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) Les Gordon said “Today’s announcement smacks of giving in to the school yard bully tactics of the South Australian Government, which has shouted threats just long and loud enough to ensure it gets its way.

“All along we thought we were being consulted in good faith but the joke is clearly on us!  For those of us who have worked long and hard towards achieving a sensible and balanced outcome, we certainly feel let down today.”

He continued “Even the timing and location of the announcement shows that the Federal Government still does not accept that the Murray-Darling Basin is much more than just the mouth of the Murray River.  The fact that the announcement is being made in Goolwa, the most modified and engineered and least natural part of the system, leaves everyone else in the extensive system bemused and disappointed.”

Mr Gordon said “While we welcome some elements of this new announcement, it is simply wrong to say that the additional environmental benefits could be achieved without a social and economic downside for communities.

“For a long time we have strongly supported investment in on-farm infrastructure projects which allow irrigators to upgrade their infrastructure and systems to maintain their productive capacity while returning water to the environment.  The reality however is that while this investment allows us to maintain our current production levels, it puts a ceiling on the future growth potential of our businesses, our industries and therefore our regions.”

Mr Gordon commented “What is even more frustrating for irrigators is that the Federal Government continues to make promises about future funding for infrastructure projects without actually allocating the funding. They continue to promise something which may or may not be delivered by future governments.

“This adds to the Australian rice industry’s lack of security and uncertainty about the future, and anyone who pretends that that does not have an impact on the social and economic resources of the Basin is deluding themselves”.

On Monday of this week at the National Farmers Federation Congress in Canberra the Prime Minister said “We need to resolve the Murray Darling Basin Plan. It’s hard to believe we’ve gone 111 years as a Federation without such a plan”.  But the truth is this latest announcement from the Federal Government simply will not get this job done!

- Media Release ends -

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