NSW Independent MP for Murray Helen Dalton has introduced a bill into Parliament that will prevent Northern Basin floodplain harvesting licence holders from seeking financial compensation from taxpayers for their licences.
Debate on the bill will occur when NSW Parliament resumes in June.
“This bill stops a massive heist a multi billion dollar transfer of wealth from the NSW public to the private sector,” Mrs Dalton said.
“For many years, big corporate Northern Basin irrigators have been siphoning water into their private dams before it reaches the river.”
“This unregulated practice known as floodplain harvesting devastates Lower Darling communities and reduces water allocations for Southern Basin irrigators.
“In February, the NSW Government sneakily granted 132 floodplain harvesting licences for an exclusive club of Northern Basin irrigators.
“These licences allow for floodplain harvesting well in excess of legal limits. They do not account for the needs for downstream and Indigenous communities.”
“Moreover, then National Party water minister Kevin Humphries changed the law in 2014 to allow irrigators to sell floodplain harvesting licences to Government, for financial compensation.”
“Lining the pockets of this exclusive club is unfair on Southern farmers, who have already given up so much water for the greater good of the Basin. It’s also a recipe for more rorts that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.”
Mrs Dalton said her bill ensures irrigators won’t be able to profit off floodplain harvesting licences.
“Farmers should have the right to collect some of the water that flows across their property. But the NSW Governments regards this as ‘bonus’ water. It should not be used to make a profit.”
Mrs Dalton said the bill could pass both houses of parliament, if it’s supported by Labor and all the crossbenchers.
“There’s no reason why any of these parties would oppose this bill. They don’t believe these licences should be compensable. Supporting this bill is a no-brainer.”
This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 2 June 2022.