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Not a matter of “just adding water”

NSW Irrigators Council CEO Claire Miller. Photo supplied

Murray-Darling Basin Plan

New legislation on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan shifts the original 2012 goalposts, according to the NSW Irrigators Council.

Amendments to the plan were introduced into parliament last week by Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek following disclosures the plan would fail to hit its June 2024 water recovery targets.

The new plan – which replaces the 2012 bipartisan plan with the support of all states – will push this deadline to December 2027 and includes funding to deliver the remaining water, such as through voluntary buybacks.

“The new Basin Plan is very far from the spirit and the law of the 2012 Plan,” NSW Irrigation Council (NSWIC) CEO, Claire Miller said. “It allows open slather on buybacks and will inevitably add to cost of living pressures as farmers struggle to maintain production with less water.”

Ms Miller said the Basin Plan to date has increased water for rivers to 72 per cent of inflows, while costing small towns more than 3100 jobs.

“More buybacks at this stage are not what many scientists say the rivers need most,” she said.

The state’s head scientist, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte agrees, saying the decline of the Darling River system is about water quality, not water volume and this was the cause of fish deaths at Menindee in March this year. […]

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