Murray River Group of Councils urges Ministers to put the Brakes on Water Recovery

Published on 12 December 2018

The Basin Plan Ministerial Council meets in Melbourne this Friday morning. This is a critical moment in the implementation of the Plan. Decisions made this week will impact our communities in Northern Victoria for decades to come.

The Murray River Group of Councils is urging Ministers to put the brakes on more water recovery in the current dry conditions. Hear the urgent messages from northern Victoria.

Our message is loud and clear: it is not possible to take more water from the consumptive pool from northern Victorian irrigation districts without negative impacts.

Recovering more water from the consumptive pool risks pushing our irrigation districts past the tipping point where entire industries would collapse, stranding billions of dollars of irrigation assets, and risking northern Victoria’s production of food staples.

Chair, Cr Cheryl McKinnon said “Our communities are doing it tough, after 15 years of water reform their resilience has been reduced to breaking point.

“The question our communities are asking now is ‘how dare they?’ Attempting to recover water during the current dry is just incomprehensible. It will cause further unnecessary hardship and distress in our communities” Cr McKinnon said.

MRGC is asking Ministers to commit to genuine and transparent measures of socio-economic neutrality by ensuring that all proposals for future water recovery meet the NSW and Victorian Governments’ agreed socio-economic assessment criteria.

“The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources appears intent on recovering the 450GL no matter what the cost to our communities” said Cr McKinnon.

“We want Minister Littleproud to know that his Department hasn’t listened, or just doesn’t get it. They are not treating our communities respectfully. It looks like they won’t even release the report of the consultation they have just done in time for anyone to see it ahead of the Ministerial Council meeting. It is just not good enough”.
 
No water recovery should occur from northern Victoria without being aligned with the easing of constraints to ensure that no water is collected that cannot actually be delivered for the environmental outcomes in the Plan.

“The Government’s own independent review by the Productivity Commission says don’t recover water you can’t use. It just seems absurd that you would spend money on water when you are not even sure you can get it to the end of the system” said Cr McKinnon.

“The Productivity Commission has done a good job and we want to make sure that its report does not just sit on a shelf gathering dust. We are seeking a commitment from Ministers that the Ministerial Council will formally respond to the Productivity Commission’s final report when it is published later this month” said Cr McKinnon.

The Murray River Group of Councils comprises six councils in northern Victoria, Mildura and Swan Hill Rural City Councils and Loddon, Gannawarra, Campaspe and Moira Shires.
ENDS