To demonstrate the magnitude of ignorance, look no further than the coffers of Australia’s largest irrigator, the taxpayer funded Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH). For the 2021-22 season, the CEWH has a total of 2,365,000 megalitres – 1,640,000 in new allocation and 725,000 in carryover from the year previous – 1,030,400 of that in the Murray system. As of March 31, 2022, the CEWH had used 492,200 megalitres in the Murray system for the 2021-22 season.
“It is impossible for this to be achieved by 2024. So, what happens then? Will we have huge volumes of water sitting in dams supposedly for ‘environmental use’ that cannot be released because it won’t fit down the system, but not enough water allocated to growing the food and fibre our nation needs? Under this scenario, regional communities will continue to suffer, and every Australian will be hit by increased cost of living" : Speak Up Chair, Shelley Scoullar.
Countless reports, ‘engagement’, reviews and the rapid erosion of the river have highlighted all these failings, yet a potential prime minister appears oblivious to the geographical diversity of issues, constraints and environments across the basin. With city centric politics appearing more interested in getting elected, what hope does the health of our basin have?
The community-based Speak Up Campaign has joined the growing list of organisations expressing concern at last week’s Labor Party announcement around implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. In particular is the issue of water buybacks, which Labor’s Shadow Water Minister Terri Butler conceded, “If we have to” was “an option that will have to be pursued.”
"There are real opportunities to deliver environmental outcomes to the river system without reducing production. I would call on both sides to put aside the political point scoring around who's tougher on water, and instead build upon the opportunities in the basin plan that have been hard fought but are still yet incomplete": Richard Bootle, NSW Farmers Water Taskforce Chair.
Labor affirms its decision to remove another 450 gigalitres of water from irrigation use: The Riverina State
Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party have affirmed their decision to remove another 450 gigalitres of water, in addition to the 2750 gigalitres already removed via the Basin Plan, from productive use in NSW and Victoria. Most, if not all, of this water will be sourced from The Riverina and northern Victoria.
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has warned that jobs across regional Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia will be lost if Anthony Albanese’s policy for water recovery is implemented under the Murray Darling Basin Plan. VFF President Emma Germano said Federal Labor’s five-point policy showed a total misunderstanding of the Basin Plan and a total disregard for jobs in regional communities.
An Albanese Labor Government will protect Australia’s precious water resources with a five-point plan for the Murray Darling Basin that strikes the right balance between the needs of local communities, farmers and the environment ... Labor will deliver on the final 450 gigalitres (GL) of water for the environment that Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce have failed to deliver.
Water allocation prices in the southern Murray–Darling Basin are likely to remain low for a third consecutive year, according to the latest ABARES Water Market Outlook.
Australia's largest irrigated cotton property, Cubbie Station, is back in local hands after Chinese textile giant Shandong Ruyi sold its remaining stake to co-owner Macquarie Asset Management. Cubbie Station is responsible for around 10% of the country’s cotton output and is now entirely held by the Sydney-based company.
For a moment, can we establish that if I was to save the environment it would require a net benefit? This means that I save more environment than I destroy, the environmental assets and ecosystem function are greater than the baseline of where we began. In watching Australia’s water policy develop, be implemented and progress, I often find myself lost or searching for some understanding of how we got here. “We wonder why a frog near a coal mine is environmental matter of national significance, yet a 47,000 hectare wetland is not. 220,000 bird movements a year is a national treasure and now the testimony in this place is the state and federal governments are going to murder Menindee,” was a question put forward by Senator Malcolm Roberts at a recent Federal Estimates hearing on water.
“Increasing the capacity of the existing channel escapes will mean environmental water can fill wetlands and creeks that would otherwise only get wet during large over bank flows ... We put an end to buybacks because of the damage they have done to regions like this – stretching beyond the individual farmgate and impacting on the efficiency or whole irrigation networks”: Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources and Water.
“They refused to vote down dodgy National Party law changes that allowed for excessive water take in the Northern Basin. These law changes really disadvantaged Lower Darling communities and Murray River irrigators” : Helen Dalton ... “This disallowance motion is a political game from a green Independent looking for relevance that undermines years of hard work by the SFF to see floodplain harvesting regulated”: Mark Banasiak, SFF MLC and Deputy Chair of the Select Committee on Floodplain Harvesting.
Member for Murray, Helen Dalton, is now an independent after resigning from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. The move came after Upper House SFF Party MPs did not show up for a crucial vote on floodplain harvesting. Floodplain harvesting has been a contentious issue as NSW seeks to license and meter floodplain interception.
NSW state MP for Murray Helen Dalton welcomed the NSW Upper House vote to disallow law changes that allowed for excessive floodplain harvesting in the NSW Northern Basin on Thursday. “This result is a big victory for communities in the Lower Darling and irrigators in my electorate,” Mrs Dalton said.
Alesha Millard. In its 52nd year, one of the world’s longest paddling races, the Massive Murray Paddle, was held last week ... The paddle commenced in Yarrawonga on February 21 and headed to Tocumwal for the first night – a 93km paddle. Paddlers also passed through Picnic Point, Moama, Torrumbarry and Murrabit, before finishing in Swan Hill on the 25th. The five-day event saw paddlers completing a 404km set course.
The world has moved on from when the Basin Plan was established in 2012 and it must adapt to new circumstances. "The upcoming election will be crucial for Basin communities. The next Government will preside over the critical 2024 reconciliation and there have been no answers to how this issue will be addressed," NFF Water Committee Chair Malcolm Holm said.
Sneaky plan to hand out Floodplain Harvesting Licences could be illegal and expose Govt to billions in compensation: Faehrmann
Moves by Water Minister Kevin Anderson to pave the way for the handing out of licences for floodplain harvesting as early as this week are likely in breach of the Commonwealth Water Act and could set up a future government to have to fork out billions of dollars in compensation, says Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP and water spokesperson and chair of the recent NSW Upper House Committee into Floodplain Harvesting.
After being nearly empty in early 2020, there’s been a remarkable turnaround in Murray–Darling Basin water storages following widespread rain throughout 2021, resulting in better water availability for towns, industries and the environment, and good cropping prospects in 2022.
Ali Bohn. The river was decorated with an array of wildlife and household replicas last Wednesday as the annual (and now iconic) Lilo Race took place for Australia Day. Flamingos, swans, lounge chairs, traditional lilos, and even thongs floated down the mighty Murray River; quite a sight to see from the banks on a stunning January morning.
Ali Bohn. 2022 looks to resemble a regular season with businesses wanting to put 2021 behind them and look to a more positive year ahead. The Bridge took a moment to catch up with some local businesses for their feedback on how the summer trade has been tracking.
NSW food producers and irrigation companies are looking forward to working collaboratively with a number of new Ministers, announced by the NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet on Monday 20 December 2021. Murray Irrigation Chair, Steve Fawns said, ‘there are numerous Ministers who have responsibility for issues that fall under the operations of Murray Irrigation, and it is important to develop positive working relationships with each one’.
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