Thursday, February 22, 2024

Griffith council slams Murray-Darling water Bill

Griffith City Council has slammed the Federal Government’s proposed amendments to the 2012 Murray Darling Basin Plan, saying the changes threaten the future of Griffith and other irrigation communities.

The amendments to the water Bill involve the reintroduction of water licence buybacks from farmers to meet the Plan’s environmental targets. It will be voted on by the Senate on 15 November and, if supported, will become law.

“Buybacks will decimate one of the most prosperous growing areas in Australia. Our government forefathers knew the potential of this area, it’s a pity our current government seems determined to destroy that legacy,” said Mayor, Doug Curran.

“Once we lose food security, we will be reliant on imports and we will have no control over our own destiny.”

Murray Darling Association Region 9 Chair, Councillor, Glen Andreazza said the reintroduction of water buybacks and the removal of socio-economic neutrality testing, was of particular concern.

“The Federal Government is completely ignoring the impacts to communities,” he said.

“They appear hell bent on achieving water recovery targets without any “further delay” and they will pay whatever is required to have farmers agree to sell their water to them to achieve this politically opportunistic agenda. I’m guessing a premium of up to 50% above the true market value,” Councillor Andreazza said.

“This is an enormous waste of public funds. Public funds should be utilised to continue with
improving efficiencies and better managing water in the distribution network.”

Council General Manager, Brett Stonestreet said State and Federal Government bureaucracies have totally disconnected with those who live and work in the Murray Darling Basin.

“The delivery of the projects should be shifted to regionally based entities who already have a track record of getting work done on time and budget. The Bill proposes an additional 18 months to have projects implemented. This is not enough time.”

He said community and business confidence in the Basin will be decimated by the proposed changes.

“And our Nation as a whole will suffer the consequences for generations to come.”

“Twelve years ago, the Murray Darling Basin Plan landed in laps of regional communities and the result was a smashing of business and community confidence.

“The NSW Department of Planning at that time immediately adjusted down the forward population projections for Griffith. They projected a reduction in population by 20%. This resulted in plummeting real estate values as well as constricted private and public sector investment. This cannot be allowed to happen again.

“This Bill is about securing political seats in Parliament leading into the next election not the greater good of the Basin as a whole. It will impact every Australian in the long run with our food and fibre coming to your local shop via a shipping container from overseas,” said Mr Stonestreet.

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