Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says new research into the Murray Darling Basin Plan has once again highlighted its devastating socio-economic impact on regional communities and says it’s time to find a solution.
The report, commissioned by NSW’s Murray Group, a representative body of Southern Riverina irrigators, showed the reduction of water for productive use is costing $120m at the farm gate in an average season and put the cost to local communities at about $360m.
Ms Sheed said the data supported similar findings outlined in a report commissioned by the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District Water Leadership Forum, released in October last year.
The GMID report showed more than $500m of lost agricultural production in the district’s supply chain each year and more than $225m at the farm gate.
“As we were forced to do, our northern neighbours had to commission their own research to demonstrate the detrimental socio-economic impact the Basin Plan is having on our communities,” Ms Sheed said.
“The results are clear. Any further removal of water from the consumptive pool in the southern basin will have a devastating effect on our farmers, who rely on water allocations to sustain their livelihoods.
“Our findings have already been backed up by a Victorian Government report released in February and have been further strengthened with these latest results.
“With terms of reference announced for a Federal Government study earlier this month, we still have one report to go, but it’s hard to imagine any report coming to a different conclusion.
“I look forward to being able to begin working towards a solution that benefits all parties in the not-too-distant future.”
Quotes attributable to Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District Water Leadership Forum co-chair David McKenzie
“Unfortunately, the findings of this report come as no surprise to anyone in the GMID district of northern Victoria.”
“The findings broadly validate two significant reports on the socio-economic impact of the Basin Plan on Victorian communities, each prepared by highly respected agricultural and economic consulting firms.”
“The first, commissioned by the GMID Water Leadership Forum, showed lost agricultural production of more than $225m at the farm gate, and more than $500m annually through the supply chain in the GMID alone.”
“The second, commissioned by the Victorian Government, and prepared by Frontier Economics & Tim Cummins & Associates, showed that in a repeat of the 2008-09 irrigation allocations, and modelling an assumption that all available water would go to the highest value commodities, Victoria would have no water for mixed farming, no water for dairy, and 16,000ha of established horticultural plantings would be at risk. That scenario is before consideration of the 450Gl ‘upwater’.
“The implementation of the Basin Plan has so far dramatically and disproportionally impacted on some basin communities, the GMID and the NSW Murray region chief among them.”
“It is abundantly clear that the balance of the 2750 Gl Basin Plan must be entirely won from Sustainable Diversion Limit offset projects, and that any buybacks associated with the 450Gl upwater cannot be pursued without failing any reasonable socio-economic neutrality test.
“What more evidence do the partners of the Basin Plan need?”
Quotes attributable to Committee for Greater Shepparton chair Rob Priestly:
“We are all for protecting the environment, but the legislation also talks about taking social impact into account. Here we have a third report saying the same thing as the first two – that these communities have already paid a heavy price for doing their bit for the environment.”
“More water out of the community equals serious negative impact. These communities simply can’t give up 450Gl more and survive.”
“The economic consequences of pushing on blindly and ignoring the social impact test in the legislation are not just regional, they are national.”
Riahn Smith 0419 138 978│firstname.lastname@example.org