Final Basin Plan "least worst" outcome

22 Nov 2012 2:50 PM - Basin Plan tabled at Parliament

The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) today said the final Murray Darling Basin Plan tabled by Minister Burke in the Federal Parliament is the “least worst” outcome we could have expected from a process that has been handled very poorly.

RGA President, Les Gordon, said today “While there are several positives for our members in the Plan, there are still some substantial risks which we will need to watch closely as the Plan is implemented”.

The RGA has worked very hard through the entire Basin Plan process to ensure that we get a balanced outcome which minimises the impact on our businesses, our industry and our communities.  This has meant staying at the negotiating table despite the substandard approach taken to an important reform.  The Plan released today is clearly a political response rather than a Plan based on good science with clearly identified objectives and a detailed plan to deliver against those objectives.”

Mr Gordon said that the positive aspects of the Plan include some assurance that the majority of the water still to be recovered will be obtained from environmental works and measures and investments in infrastructure and we welcome this assurance.”

The Minister has divided the water recovery process into three tranches – 2100GL of irrigators’ entitlements and 650GL from environmental works and measures in the Basin Plan and then a proposed additional 450GL from infrastructure projects in the future.

Mr Gordon said that “Given that we have either recovered or identified where almost 90% of the 2100GL will come from, we will need to work very closely with our State Governments to ensure that suitable projects are found for the 650GL contribution from environmental works and measures.  We must ensure that there is not a shortfall in this water recovery which then has to be met from the further buy-back of productive water.”

Mr Gordon also said “the lack of a clear plan for using the water which will be acquired for the environment remains a major concern.  Simply adding water will not address many of the environmental problems in the Basin and we should have been able to see a clear plan for using this water with the Plan.

Finally, we really need to work out where Australia’s priorities lie in a world that will probably struggle to feed a fast growing global population.  It’s not in our interest to be taking measures that reduce food production when many in our region are likely to be facing drastic food shortages over the coming decades” Mr Gordon said.

The RGA will consider the detail of the Plan, consult with our members, our peak industry organisations, and our community groups to determine the next steps.”

Media Contact: Les Gordon, RGA President, 0427 681 504