AN INDEPENDENT analysis of further potential damage to rural communities has been welcomed by food and fibre producers.
They believe it is time the consequences of bad government policy that is doing untold damage to Australia need to be ‘laid on the table’.
Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Graeme Pyle, representing more than 1200 food and fibre producers in the NSW Murray Valley, said it was time to assess the appalling implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
“From the start this plan has lacked science, it has lacked common-sense, it has lacked community consultation and engagement,’’ Mr Pyle said.
“I suspect we will look back in the future and compare it to the disastrous pink batts and school halls programs, which were a massive waste of taxpayer money and caused huge social distress
“Hopefully the independent analysis of efficiency measures will be another step in exposing the sham.’’
Federal Water Minister Barnaby Joyce last week announced terms of reference for the independent study, which have been agreed to by all Basin Ministers.
The study will ‘‘provide advice to the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council on the recovery of 450GL in additional environmental water through efficiency measures, with neutral or beneficial socio-economic outcomes’’.
Mr Pyle said importantly, the study will not only consider the impact of on-farm efficiency measures, but also the impact on employment in basin communities, as well as the impact on temporary and permanent water markets.
‘‘Studies completed so far indicate the damage being caused by the Basin Plan to rural communities is far greater than initial modelling indicated, although this is not surprising because there are flaws in many of the plan’s assumptions.
‘‘Unfortunately, the mistakes in job losses mean real people and real communities are suffering. We believe it is impossible to achieve an additional 450 gigalitres without further adverse effects to our communities, so I trust Basin Ministers will honour their commitment to guarantee it does not cause further social and economic pain,’’ Mr Pyle said.
He pointed out that Murray-Darling Basin Authority studies had shown significant job losses in the Northern Basin, and an independent study in the Goulburn Valley had reported job losses of up to 2000 and lost production of up to $550 million a year in that region alone.
“In a civilised nation, it’s hard to understand how any government could allow this to happen.
“We can only hope that city-based politicians will eventually wake up to the fact they have been conned by environmental lobbyists, most of whom have no connection or investment with our region.
“With the help of reports such as the independent study being carried out this year, we should get a better indication of the damage this flawed Basin Plan is causing our nation, and a realisation that adjustments are needed to fix it so the environment, our food producers and our communities can move on and again live in harmony,” Mr Pyle said.