The below is a media released issued by Murray River Group of Councils on Wednesday, 4 December
Handing control over water sharing arrangements to the Commonwealth would be disastrous for Victorian irrigators according to the Murray River Group of Councils.
The MRGC, which spans northern Victorian irrigation communities from Yarrawonga to Mildura, today strongly backed Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville in her stand against a Commonwealth take-over of water sharing arrangements.
Cr Lorraine Learmonth, Chair of the MRGC said: “Minister Neville has been standing up for our communities for a long time and we are standing with her now.
“We understand that our neighbours in NSW are really suffering in the drought and are angry and frustrated at the Basin Plan. We are too. Just in my area of Cohuna we have lost more than 50 dairy farms and more than 30,000 head of cattle.
“But handing the Commonwealth power to arbitrarily change the water sharing arrangements in a way that would take more water away from Victorian farmers is not acceptable.
“These arrangements have been in place for decades and each state has used them to build allocation rules that best suit its’ farmers irrigation needs” Cr Learmonth said.
Victorian allocation rules have been developed over decades to suit the smaller scale, capital intensive dairy industry and permanent horticultural plantings that predominate. This had led to a more conservative approach to allocation with High Security Water Shares rather than NSW approach which was developed to suit mixed
farming and annual crops.
Cr Learmonth went on to say “Why would we want to hand more water powers over to the Commonwealth? Their record to date isn’t great. The way they have implemented the Basin Plan has devastated communities across the Basin.
“Giving them power to move the goal posts every time they get political pressure won’t provide farmers with the certainty and security they need.
“We know the drought continues to be catastrophic for many people and that the Basin Plan water recovery has made its effects worse. We agree the Basin Plan needs to be flexible and adaptable but handing more water powers over to the Commonwealth is not the answer and it would put Victorian irrigators at risk of losing more water” Cr Learmonth said.
The Murray River Group of Councils comprises six councils in northern Victoria, Mildura and Swan Hill Rural City Councils and Loddon, Gannawarra, Campaspe and Moira Shires.