Media Release


Federal Government water buybacks to keep food prices high

The Federal Government has embarked on its mission to hollow out regional communities and drive up the cost of food by announcing water buybacks will get underway on 15 July.

NSW Irrigators’ Council CEO Claire Miller said it’s economics 101: driving up the cost of critical inputs such as water squeezes farmer margins and squeezes them out of business, while driving up prices at the checkout.

“We already know that the federal Water Minister doesn’t care what farmers and Basin communities that depend on irrigated agriculture have to say. Now the federal government is moving to add even more expense to all Australian households with this regionally toxic policy.

“Now we know she doesn’t care what her own agencies have to say, either.

“Just this week, the ACCC warned water buybacks will drive up the cost of water for farmers. Just last month, ABARES warned buybacks would drive up the cost of water.

“Just a few months ago, the Productivity Commission warned purchasing less than the 70 GL sought in this first round would disrupt industry and cause widespread community angst.”
The Federal Government also knows which are the most vulnerable communities – ABARES released that information last month.

“And now, the Government is indeed undertaking targeted water purchases – targeted precisely to do the most damage in the most vulnerable communities ABARES identified in the Murrumbidgee, the Murray in NSW and Victoria, and South Australia’s Riverland.

“The Government is intent on driving up the cost of food staples, especially the rice and dairy grown in the Basin, and crippling farmers in one fell swoop. Talk about a double whammy. Reducing the availability of water for agriculture will push the price of water up and food at the checkout creating even more pain for all Australian consumers of food.

“History has shown water buybacks have a detrimental impact on the agricultural sector, costing vital jobs and income that keep small towns alive, their schools and clubs open and service available. The ripples are felt right down the Main Street.

“And the final insult to injury is that more water is not what the rivers need most now. Adding more water will only help the European carp infesting our waterways, wrecking water quality and habitat for native fish.
“More water will not fix cold water pollution, erosion and the host of other degradation drivers keeping our rivers sick. We need urgent action and funding on these neglected issues, not more unnecessary buybacks.”

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