Our River needs certainty

We, the people of the Murray-Darling Basin, the people who live in the Basin, work in the Basin and care for the Basin, call on our State and Federal politicians to put politics aside and focus on outcomes to give our river systems certainty for a sustainable future.

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was written in a way to allow adaptive management, with enough flexibility to utilise new knowledge and to adjust operational management of our rivers to get better ecological outcomes from held environmental water while eventually providing certainty for the river and river communities.

This is what was written into the original Plan by Tony Burke in 2012 and it is what the Ministerial Council worked towards and finally agreed on in 2017.

While not everyone in the Basin likes the Plan, everyone has been working towards achieving it and delivering a balanced plan.

Today that hangs in the balance and we are concerned that we are on the verge of seeing the efforts of many thrown away compromising future environmental outcomes.

Both the Northern Basin Review (NBR) and the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) have been designed to require changes to system management to ensure environmental outcomes can be maximised.

In the north that means developing rules to ensure environmental water is protected through the system. Known as “toolkit” measures, the states have prepared a schedule to the Basin Plan Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to be implemented once the amendment is passed – but it is dependent on the amendment.

In the south the proposed adjustment projects include rules to enable environmental water to be used at multiple sites and consultation to address physical and regulatory impediments (constraints) to delivering higher connective flows.

With these changes, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder can effectively manage the water portfolio to maximise outcomes and make a real difference to improving the ecological sustainability of our rivers.

Without these changes, all the Basin Plan will achieve is a volume of water that cannot be effectively delivered. Billions of tax – payer dollars spent on a number.

Don’t let our faith be destroyed.

Don’t risk changes that support a sustainable Basin.

Don’t risk environmental outcomes.

Don’t disallow the NBR or the SDLAM.

Yours faithfully

Tony Mahar, National Farmers Federation: 0418 259 545

Steve Whan, National Irrigators’ Council: 0429 780 883

Michael Murray, Cotton Australia: 0427 707 868

Stuart Brown, Bega: 0408 580 350

Tim Napier, Border Rivers Food and Fibre: 0448 713 886

Mark McKenzie, NSW Irrigators’ Council: 0412 075 245

Iva Quarisa, Murrumbidgee Private Irrigators: 0402 069 643

Gabrielle Coupland, Southern Riverina Irrigators: 0407 262 780

13 February 2018

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