Media Release


‘End the water wars’: NSWIC Election Platform

No one wants more conflict over water, so let’s not make water political this election.


This is the key theme in the NSW Irrigators’ Council Federal Election Platform released today.


The Platform has nine requests under three pillars: (i) Murray-Darling Basin reform; (ii) support for regional communities, economies and industries; and (iii) technology and infrastructure.


“This election, we are calling on candidates across the political spectrum to walk away from the polarising water policies of the past,” said NSWIC CEO, Claire Miller.


“Instead, the nation needs evidence-based policy that reflects lessons learned over the last 20 years, and is progressed in partnership with affected communities, not despite them.


“Investment in water infrastructure is also required to help Australia become more resilient to the more severe and frequent droughts and floods we are experiencing. Governments must do more to address the causes of climate change and assist farmers to adapt to the effects.”


NSW Irrigators’ Council and its members are also calling for a National Drought Plan. “The most recent drought was truly devastating, particularly for our rural communities, and we need a national plan that is proactive in preparing for drought, not reactive,” said Ms Miller.


“We are also calling for investment  to help irrigation farmers achieve the industry’s aspirational target for carbon neutrality by 2030. Irrigators play an important role in feeding and clothing our nation and beyond, but also offer untapped potential to reduce carbon emissions.”


The NSWIC Election Platform addresses key on-going water reforms, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin.


“We need flexibility and adaptability if the Basin Plan is to meet its environmental objectives, as opposed to the current model of just adding water and hoping for the best,” said Ms Miller.


“The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder is now the largest water licence holder in the Basin, after one in every five litres of irrigation water was bought back.


“We need to put an end to the spectre of further buybacks; inquiry after inquiry has identified better ways to improve environmental outcomes without draining more of the socioeconomic life from our Basin communities.”


The NSWIC is calling for a $2 billion investment in ‘complementary measures’ (environmental projects that move beyond the ‘just add water’ approach).


“Many of the biggest environmental challenges in the Basin can’t be fixed by just adding water,” explained Ms Miller.


“In fact, with climate change and diminishing water licence reliability, we need to think differently. We need targeted programs to improve habitats, increase native species populations, address feral and invasive species, improve fish passage, and improve water quality.


“That’s where the greatest environmental gains can be achieved – and we can all work together on that.


“The last thing we need is parties running to hyper-partisan corners, and stakeholders left to keep battling it out without trust or confidence in decision-makers to resolve the challenges in good faith.”



NSWIC Election Platform Summary:


  1. Maximise the SDL Adjustment Mechanism supply projects by permitting new projects, extending timeframes if required, and recognising progress towards SDLAM implementation in the Basin Plan’s 2024 reconciliation.
  2. No more direct or indirect water recovery from farmers, or erosion of the reliability of water entitlements.
  3. $2 billion to implement complementary measures packages to improve river ecosystem health across the Basin, including funding to accelerate the Northern Basin Toolkit Projects.
  4. National water metering standards adopted by NSW to be required across all States.
  5. A ‘National Drought Plan’ agreed and funded in the 2023 budget, including infrastructure to improve drought resilience; nationally consistent drought definitions; progressive triggers for federal and state financial support; and, an expert advisory panel including industry stakeholders to devise the plan by the end of 2022.
  6. Funding for farmers to assess their farm carbon budget, and additional funding for Australian farms to implement measures to work towards the industry’s aspirational target of carbon neutrality by 2030.
  7. Additional federal funding for additional gauges to improve water monitoring and forecasting throughout the Murray-Darling Basin.
  8. Mobile blackspot funding for NSW irrigation regions with poor telecommunications, including coastal valleys.
  9. Investigate and invest in water security infrastructure projects to improve the reliability of water entitlements owned by both farmers and the environment, and therefore water security for rivers and farmers in droughts.



The full NSWIC Federal Election Platform is available here.

Secure - Sustainable - Productive