Basin communities are calling on the NSW Government to publish the new ideas and solutions the State intends to put forward to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The call comes as the Federal Government is undertaking public consultation to identify ways to address key challenges, particularly the notoriously problematic additional 450 GL promised to South Australia and the expected shortfall on the 605 GL-equivalent offset projects.
“Transparency is the only way we can have confidence that NSW won’t just leave NSW communities ultimately facing further buybacks,” said NSWIC CEO, Claire Miller.
“We’re not hearing much about what the NSW Government is thinking can and should be done to fix the Basin Plan, and ensure it works for both communities and the environment in NSW.”
Without new ideas and innovative solutions from Basin States, the Federal Government may rely on buybacks to cover shortfalls up to 760 GL as a result of stalled or failed project delivery.
“Basin communities cannot afford to lose any more water to grow food and fibre. The Basin Plan is already delivering on its environmental objectives, and there are many ways to boost those gains without recovering any more water from farmers.
“We are yet to see the NSW Department putting forward anything new for the next Basin Ministerial Council meeting expected in August.
“A moratorium on further buybacks will send a clear signal that NSW is taking seriously the community’s efforts to find better ways forward.
“While it has been encouraging to hear the NSW Premier, Chris Minns, tell Parliament his Government wants to deliver a Plan that supports our farming communities, our farming communities need more detail on what that looks like to have confidence.”
Ms Miller noted key degradation drivers in the Basin such as invasive species, habitat degradation and fish passage can’t be resolved by adding water alone. “Innovation and new ways forward is in everyone’s best interest.”