Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says it is vital for the future of local food production in Northern Victoria that no additional water is taken out of irrigated farming communities.
Ms Sheed said while she was pleased to see the Australian Senate this week vote down a Greens’ disallowance motion on the Murray Darling Basin Plan to allow 605Gl of important environmental projects to proceed, she remained extremely concerned at a side deal done to ensure delivery of an additional 450GL of water.
“I was very disappointed to see that the Australian Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud did a deal with the federal Labor Opposition to all but guarantee the recovery of an extra 450GL,” Ms Sheed said.
“It was always understood that this additional water would only be considered once the 2750GL of the original plan was achieved, and should only go ahead if there were no further negative socio-economic impacts to communities.
“Victoria has already given up 800GL of the most expensive high-reliability water and what many of the decision makers are failing to understand is that any further on-farm efficiencies in the Southern Basin will end up ripping water out of the Goulburn Murray region because of how water is traded.”
When pressed by Ms Sheed in Question Time yesterday, Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville reiterated that Victoria is a signatory to the original 2750 GL plan and said she was concerned by some of the proposed changes to the Plan outlined in the Federal Government deal.
The Minister pointed out that the Plan was an agreement by the states and the Federal Government and so any changes would have to be approved by all parties at the Ministerial Council.
She also confirmed the Victorian Government would not agree to the current Goulburn Constraints Project, which she said delivers very little water to the river and potentially impact 570 landowners.
Ms Sheed said she welcomed the Minister’s comments and was confident she would continue to strongly protect the Victorian food-producing communities in Northern Victoria.
“The Minister is well aware of the serious socio-economic impact the Plan has had on our communities to date and it was encouraging to hear the Minister speak so strongly on behalf of Victoria’s food producers,” Ms Sheed said.
“She understands that the socio-economic neutrality test must be a community-wide test that reflects the impact of water removal across the community and confirmed that it is not simply whether or not a farmer wants to sell off his water.
“Any further water extracted from farms in the Goulburn Murray region could be disastrous for our communities.”
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