RGA to establish Basin CEO group to address MDB concerns

10 Jul 2015 3:23 PM -

The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) today announced that the RGA was leading the charge to bring commodity based CEO’s together to address future policy solutions surrounding the ongoing implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

RGA’s Executive Director Dean Logan, "One of the great strengths of working in regional Australia is our ability as CEO’s to get together and talk through issues of mutual significance and concern.

"Over the last two weeks I’ve met with and discussed concerns regarding the Murray Darling Basin Plan process with CEOs across five major commodity sectors equating to tens of billions of dollars of investment. The overwhelming response? Policy makers, families, communities and farmers alike deserve a much more constructive, mature and less emotive debate that ultimately leads to real solutions being placed on the table."

Key aspects of our discussions have been as follows:

- We acknowledge that we have a lot in common and share similar concerns, even though we represent separate industry sectors across irrigated agriculture;

- Whilst challenges are looming and policy and institutional reform is urgently needed, we must address these challenges maturely and by working constructively with policy makers with genuine solutions;

- The Senate Inquiry at this time on this issue will not deliver the outcome needed when solutions require both State and Federal Government cooperation and political buy-in, and;

- With significant memberships and investments in play throughout the Murray Darling Basin, it is now up to us to stand united to help Government deliver social, environmental and economic certainty and reform.

Dean Logan continued, "A key point we are raising as basin CEO’s is that while social, economic and environmental decline is measured in decades not years, we must look forward positively when seeking to address reform.

"What shouldn’t be missed is that amongst all this so called ‘turmoil’ the rice industry alone, six weeks ago, delivered growers and basin communities an additional $40M of income on top of last years crop returns. This is a positive story that demands a more constructive debate when moving forward and working through concerns.

"As CEOs we all agree change is needed and we won’t walk away from a fight, but the Murray Darling Basin is at a critical juncture that demands leadership and calm heads to prevail.

"It is vital we maintain a sense of bipartisanship and inter-jurisdictional leadership and dialogue. We must, this time, get this right. We stand committed with Government - of all persuasions - to do what ever it takes," ended Mr Logan.

The basin group of CEOs will be formalised over the next two weeks. The initiative has been discussed with senior policy makers and leaders at both the State and Federal level and will be officially launched in Sydney.

Download full statement here.