The 40th anniversary of the NSW Irrigators’ Council was celebrated this week, with dignitaries and special guests from peak bodies joining directors, delegates and staff past and present at the Whitton Malthouse in the Murrumbidgee valley.
“It was great to be joined by some of the original founders of NSWIC, and to hear their reflections on how the past 40 years has developed. A key insight was the importance of our voice being united, reasonable, respected and informed,” said NSWIC CEO Claire Miller.
Current NSWIC Chair, Jim Cush, delivered a speech, saying NSWIC was formed in 1983 after the then Water Resources Commission acquired a new Minister who promised a new approach to rural water, starting with full cost-recovery in pricing.
“It was the beginning of ‘re-balancing’ water between farmers and the environment, which we are now all too familiar with,” Mr Cush said.
“Until this time, the Commission’s job was to promote water for productive use. But times change and it became apparent the industry would need to lead its own advocacy and sustainability in this new world of ‘rebalancing’. This was how the seeds of NSWIC were sown.
“Forty years on, and here we are.
“It’s good that we are meeting here in Whitton. While we have big issues to deal with across the state, I am particularly concerned about what the next 12 months will mean for the southern Basin with the Basin Plan.
“We continue to work hard on our Beyond Buybacks campaign to showcase better ways to deliver the Basin Plan’s objectives, and our Working Together campaign to showcase the great work our farmers do for the environment, as well as food and fibre production.
“I think every region of NSW is facing its share of big challenges – whether that be the Basin Plan, metering, coastal harvestable rights, WSP changes, floodplain harvesting, river operations or fair pricing — which continues to be a battle 40 years on.
“One of the things I’m most proud of, is that NSWIC is recognised as an organisation that is solutions-focused, constructive, professional and informed. This is why we are respected, how we get cut-through, and why decision-makers come to us.”
The celebrations followed the July NSWIC General Meeting, where the Council discussed Basin Plan next steps, pricing hikes, metering challenges, and enjoyed presentations on the Bitterns in Rice project and management of the Murrumbidgee cultural water entitlement.