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Water Act changes welcomed by farmers

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Water Taskforce Chair, Les Gordon, has today congratulated both the Coalition and the Labor Party on their spirit of bipartisanship following both parties' support for changes to the Water Act 2007.

The Commonwealth Parliament has this week agreed to amendments that will give governments more time to find water saving projects to implement the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“In April, NFF applauded the State and Commonwealth Ministers responsible for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on their agreement to a suite of projects that will mean less water needs to be recovered from irrigation communities to deliver environmental outcomes,” Mr Gordon said.

“At that time, Ministers also requested that the Commonwealth seek to change the Water Act to give them an additional 12 months to further scope and examine more projects.

“In the coming weeks, Basin Ministers will again meet.  Now that this change has been agreed by the Commonwealth Parliament, we urge the States to get on with the job of the detailed planning of the next tranche of projects.

“We cannot understate the critical importance of the success of these measures.  Reaching agreement on more projects will mean that the Basin Plan can be fully implemented without the need for further buyback of water entitlements from irrigators.

“We urge the Commonwealth and State governments to continue the job of implementing the Basin Plan, but to avoid further negative impacts on the social and economic fabric of the Basin’s industries and communities.”

There are smarter ways to achieve the Plan’s triple-bottom line outcomes than by simply buying back water from communities that depend on that water for their livelihoods
The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, Deputy Prime Minister

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the government intended that effective operation of the SDL Adjustment Mechanism would mean more water for farmers and the communities that rely on this vital resource.

“The Coalition Government remains firmly committed to minimising the amount of water recovery needed to deliver the triple bottom line outcomes of the Basin Plan,” Minister Joyce said.

“There are smarter ways to achieve the Plan’s triple-bottom line outcomes than by simply buying back water from communities that depend on that water for their livelihoods. That’s what the SDL Adjustment Mechanism is about, being smarter and more adaptive.

“We need to secure the long-term health of the Basin system, but I do not want to see any more water taken out of Basin communities than is necessary to achieve this.

“The Murray–Darling Basin Plan has always been about balancing the needs of the environment, Basin communities and industry. However, talking to the people who actually live in Basin communities, it is clear they appreciate the good work being done towards getting the balance right.

The SDL Adjustment Bill gives effect to changes proposed by the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council at its meeting on 22 April 2016.

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