Media Release


Buybacks to be fast-tracked in water recovery framework

The Commonwealth Government’s draft framework for recovering another 450 GL water is poorly thought out and will hurt farmers and their communities without delivering significant environmental benefits.

NSW Irrigators’ Council CEO Claire Miller said the framework fails to provide essential details crucial for informed decision-making by individuals, industries, irrigation districts, and local governments.

“This framework’s lack of clarity flies in the face of meaningful consultation and those stakeholders who have spent countless hours meeting with officials and making submissions along the way,” Ms Miller said.

“Furthermore, it is hard to see this consultation process as anything other than token given the extremely tight timeframes, the lack of detail and the clear intent to fast-track purchases in early 2024 before any other option has been fully developed.

“NSWIC’s submission on the draft framework makes several recommendations, including releasing a comprehensive strategy, funding for local governments to undertake benchmark socioeconomic condition assessment, and more extensive consultation.

Ms Miller said more water buybacks from farmers are unnecessary, on top of the 2107 GL already recovered under the Basin Plan and 875 GL recovered under earlier reforms.

“More water will not fix what is still making the rivers sick, such as invasive European carp choking the waterways, wrecking water quality and habitat for native species,” she said.

“Further, the Productivity Commission review released last month warned against trying to recover 450 GL by 2027. It said only a limited volume could be purchased each year without paying high premiums, and increasing prices in ways that cause excessive disruption to water markets and Basin communities.

“If the Government was serious about delivering the Basin Plan’s environmental objectives, it would be investing billions of dollars in a war on invasive species, building fish passageways and installing fish screens, and addressing cold water pollution and other major degradation drivers.

“Instead, the Government is wasting billions of dollars of taxpayers money buying water at inflated prices to deliver a political promise and win votes in South Australia.”

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