Media Release


Connectivity Panel on track to fall short in final report

The Connectivity Expert Panel must given more time to properly complete its work, or it will struggle to fill vital data gaps and complete essential socioeconomic impact analysis by its June deadline.

NSW Irrigators’ Council CEO Claire Miller said that following a stakeholder meeting this week in Narrabri, it was clear the panel still did not have the data to model the potential volume of reduced water access, nor the river operations expertise to determine whether rules changes would in fact achieve the downstream targets.

Ms Miller said that after eight months, the panel had only got as far as proposing targets, and conceded that it may not have all the baseline data required to even begin the socioeconomic impact analysis by the 30 June deadline for its final report.

“The panel’s interim report details the socioeconomic analysis required for the Minister to make an informed decision on any possible rules changes.

“Without the data to fill the gaps and inform the socioeconomic analysis, the panel is on track to submit an incomplete report to the Minister.

“This is concerning as farmers stand to lose access to store water in wet times that they need to keep growing food and fibre in dry times. This is particularly concerning given the interim report lacks clear evidence that restrictions would in fact deliver the aspirational flow targets.

“The NSW Government must reconsider the timeframes for the final report if this is to be seen as a serious and legitimate exercise.”

Ms Miller said the interim report acknowledged that data and modelling limitations made it difficult to determine upstream impacts or the downstream benefits.

It also overlooks water recovery initiatives and rules changes made since 2020 and disregards previous and future water recovery efforts under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“There are no winners in this report. We know the Barwon-Darling river will not significantly benefit from more water unless we also address the other issues making the river sick like cold water pollution and European carp,” Ms Miller said.

“The Panel is also recommending changes to the Menindee Lakes operations that would reduce NSW Murray, Victorian and South Australian allocations.”

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