THE GOULBURN Murray Irrigation District community is getting behind the GMID Water Leadership Group’s ‘Give us a #Fairflow’ campaign, with the region’s producers sharing the message.
GMID Water Leadership Group co-chair and State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said it was great to see everyone from local businesses to community members, as well as farmers, getting behind the campaign.
“We are pleased the Senate supported amending the (Murray-Darling) Basin Plan to reduce its 2750 Gl target by up to 605 Gl, using projects to deliver the same environmental benefits with less water,” Ms Sheed said.
“But the 450 Gl ‘up-water’ remains on the table. We were promised no more water would be recovered from irrigators if it caused more community hardship. This is not possible if the basin plan’s flawed socio-economic neutrality test stands.”
Ms Sheed said the test assumed if an individual farmer chose to trade water entitlements in return for government funding for upgrades, then the impact was positive or neutral.
She said the tests should not be limited to individual farmers and must also include the broader community, regional and water market impacts, particularly in dry and drought years.
“The GMID remains at risk until the test is broadened,” she said.
An Ernst & Young report commissioned by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council said more data was required to properly evaluate the individual and collective socio-economic impacts of farmers trading more water entitlements to the environment in return for Commonwealth funding for farm upgrades.
GMID Water Leadership Group member and Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive officer Sam Birrell said on-farm projects had been a better way of returning water to the environment up until now.
“But there is a point at which any more water leaving the total pool will have a massive negative socio-economic impact. We are at that point now,” Mr Birrell said.
“A more insecure and expensive water supply as farmers compete for less water available on the market threatens the viability of our key industries.
“GMID farmers have contributed more water to the basin plan than any other district, and we are pleased to see river health improving.
“But we can’t afford to lose more water, jobs and production, particularly when the ministers have other, off-farm and urban options to source more water.
“The Senate agreement only gives us certainty if a genuine, evidence-based socio-economic test is applied, and the volume recovered adjusted accordingly.”
Fairflow placards are available from Opteon Solutions at 308 Maude Str, Shepparton and at Ms Sheed’s electorate office at 5 Vaughan St, Shepparton.