The Environmental Farmers Network calls for cool heads in the ongoing deliberations on the Murray Darling Basin Plan. John Pettigrew, spokesperson for EFN and an Irrigator at Bunbartha, says we are ill served by those intent on political opportunism and division, seemingly willing to sacrifice long term river health for short term economic and social gain.
The additional 3000 GL/yr scenario for the environment appears very much a compromise, fails to sufficiently allow for climate change and is likely to meet key objectives only if 20th century high rainfall conditions return. The authority should fully develop cost / benefit analysis of all 3 scenarios outlined in the guide to the proposed Basin Plan from 3000 gigalitres/year to 7600 gigalitres/year. We need to fully understand the degree of protection each of the scenarios affords our Murray Darling River system.
The benefits to and impacts on irrigators and rural communities also need to be clarified; social and economic factors need to be known based on each of the 3 scenarios. The scenarios should take into account gains already made in water buybacks and infrastructure refurbishment and the higher levels of service provided to irrigators.
Clearly we are fortunate to have had the environment take precedence in the initial stages of this plan. This has allowed an unencumbered understanding of the state of the Murray Darling River system and the remedial actions needed to protect the health of our river systems and maintain the productive capacity of current and future generations.
Governments need to assess the plan’s outcomes to deliver targeted integrated regional development to assist those irrigators and communities transition to a more secure future with a healthy river system as its basis.
John Pettigrew phone 03 5826 9557
Spokesperson on water issues.
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