Media Release


Constraints negotiation must be in good faith

NSW Irrigators’ Council is urging the NSW Government to rule out bad-faith aspects of its proposed landholder negotiation framework to manage constraints and avoid further buybacks

The Reconnecting River Country Program seeks to deliver environmental water to wetlands and floodplains by relaxing constraints to allow minor inundation of private land.

“The program requires more than 4000 landowners in the southern NSW Murray-Darling Basin to agree to flood easements on their properties,” said NSWIC CEO Claire Miller.

“That requires the Government to genuinely work with communities to rebuild trust, be patient and show respect for concerns landholders may have.

“But doing so under threat of compulsory acquisition, as flagged in the Landholder Negotiation Framework, is a very bad faith move, guaranteed to only deepen local suspicion and opposition.

“Given the already well-documented trust deficit in Basin communities, it is unfathomable that compulsory acquisition is even being put forward if voluntary agreements can’t be reached.”

In its submission on the Framework, NSWIC urges the Government to step up now and rule out:

  1. Compulsory acquisition of flood easements on private land.
  2. The Crown excluding itself from liability for inundation if agreements can’t be reached.
  3. Embedding the negotiation framework in regulation.

“Victoria has ruled out any compulsory acquisition, and we call on NSW to do the same.”

Constraints management will help deliver environmental objectives without the need to buy back more water and further undermine communities’ viability. However, progress must be demonstrated by 2024 to avoid further buybacks.

NSWIC is concerned that the Government is now wasting more time on unnecessary regulatory processes for how to consult, rather than just getting on with the actual consultation itself.

“NSW must get a wriggle-on with this – Basin communities can’t be hung out to dry because the Government is dragging the chain,” said Ms Miller.

“It does not need this framework or regulation to get out there, talk to people, and be prepared to work through their concerns – properly and patiently.”


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