The NSW Irrigators’ Council (NSWIC) has written to the NSW Government urging it to take stronger actions in protecting regional communities from the imminent threat of further water buybacks.
NSWIC Acting CEO Christine Freak said while it is promising to hear NSW continue to oppose buybacks, the State Government needs to step in to provide certainty to regional communities which rely on water for their livelihoods.
“The recent news out of Canberra reopening the door to buybacks has sent a shockwave through Basin communities,” Ms Freak said.
“We welcome NSW’s words around opposing buybacks however we urgently need the State Government to walk the talk and show exactly how they plan to do this. It is not enough to simply say buybacks are a matter for the Commonwealth.
“Communities need the NSW government to explore all options they have to step in on buybacks and protect NSW communities,”
NSWIC is calling on the NSW Government to seek independent legal advice on what options they do have available to avoid any further buybacks. Simply saying buybacks are beyond the state’s control doesn’t go far enough to protect livelihoods that rely on secure water access.
“The NSW Government needs to take substantive steps to safeguard our communities, agricultural industries and food supply,” Ms Freak said.
“There are risks to communities right across the Basin, but we are particularly concerned about what this will mean for the Murray valley, who are again left particularly vulnerable under this agreement.”
NSWIC calls on NSW parliament to support a bill to put socio-economic protections from water buybacks in State legislation.
“The Federal Government signalling walking away from important socio-economic protections previously agreed by all Basin states, is all the more reason NSW must do all it can to get protections in State legislation,” Ms Freak said.
NSWIC raised the question of what Victoria’s notable absence from the agreement means in terms of delivering the remainder of the plan.
“Basin water policy has a delicate history of bipartisanship and state co-operation, and it should be concerning for all that’s slipping away. There’s no room for politics in water management,” Ms Freak said.