Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley has reiterated her stance on further water recovery in the Murray Darling Basin following a meeting of ministers committing to further research on the matter.
The meeting of state and government water ministers approved 450GL of upwater, provided it won’t have a negative impact on communities.
Ms Ley said communities in her electorate were concerned water couldn’t be delivered through existing channels without consequences.
“As I have said a number of times, our irrigation communities neither like nor trust the 450GL ‘up water’ for two very important reasons,” she said.
“One - we are not confident it can actually be delivered through existing rivers, channels and structures without severe third party impacts, such as flooding. Secondly, no one wants to see any more water leave the consumptive pool, which would see the region become less productive and farmers paying even more for temporary water.”
Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said the Ministerial Council (MINCo) had committed to extra research to determine potential impacts.
“Regarding the 450GL of upwater: The 450GL will only be delivered with neutral or positive social and economic outcomes. MINCo has agreed to this,” he said.
“Given this, we need further work to develop detailed additional criteria defining neutral or positive socio-economic impacts. We'll aim to have this done by Christmas.”
An earlier report on the subject from Ernst and Young was criticised by state and federal members alike for failing to take potential socioeconomic impacts into account.
Ms Ley welcomed the move toward further research, said any studies on potential impact need to extend beyond farms and into regional communities in their entirety.
“It is enormously important to all of us in the Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys, that the Ministers have agreed to do further homework to define ‘neutral or positive socio-economic impacts’ before the recovery of the 450GL,” she said.
“I will seek to represent our interests in this work, ensuring we make the very important point: it is not good enough to determine a positive or neutral outcome for a single farm - it must be for the whole community.”
Ministers also confirmed state governments are fully committed to the delivery of the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism project.
It refers to set of 37 projects aimed at improving the flow of water for environmental purposes. In turn, it means farmers and irrigators will not have to forfeit another 605 GL of water.