VFF commends State Government for strong Basin Plan stand

The State Government has vowed to hold its ground on the Murray Darling Basin Plan at a community water forum organised by the Victorian Farmers Federation.

Water Minister Lisa Neville fronted up to a crowd of close to 100 people at Echuca last night to reaffirm the Government’s position on water recovery and release its independent socio-economic study into the Basin Plan’s impacts on irrigation communities.

The VFF applauded Minister Neville for not wavering on the Government’s commitment to back irrigators by stating the 450GL is not recoverable and committing to avoid buybacks for future recovery, including for the 650GL sustainable diversion limit.

“This is a significant message from Minister Neville and it will go a long way to reassuring irrigation communities,” VFF President David Jochinke said.

“The Minister’s position is well founded because the report recognises the Basin Plan has reduced annual average milk production by an incredible 30 per cent.

“If the 450GL was recovered, horticulture high reliability dependence could rise 11 per cent to a total 51 per cent of Victorian water, which puts horticultural land at significant risk of being dried off during low allocation years.”

Mr Jochinke said the report recognised the disproportionate contribution Victoria made to the Commonwealth’s water recovery plan through purchase of high reliability water shares, increasing Victoria’s vulnerability in low allocation years.

“It’s pleasing to see the Minister committed to avoiding negative impacts on existing recovery under the Basin Plan with her intentions for the independent panel review of the 650GL adjustment mechanism to help ensure the full 650GL is recovered without buybacks,” he said.

The VFF also commended Minister Neville for her stance that the State Government would not support any further Commonwealth buybacks of irrigation water, stating that the buyout plan made water availability worse.

“We have seen a strong showing from the Minister that the Government has said no to buybacks and it has been made clear that we have the Government’s support,” Mr Jochinke said.