Bipartisan support for water buybacks cap essential

Posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2015 - Category: In the News

The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has reiterated its long-standing support of the 1500 gigalitre (GL) cap on buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) with its submission to the 2015 Water Amendment Bill last month. The Bill, which will legislate the 1500GL cap as part of the 2750GL target under the Basin Plan, requires bipartisan support to deliver dairy farmers with much-needed certainty about future water availability to sustain their business.

The 1500GL cap provides dairy farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin with much-needed certainty about future water availability to sustain their business. At the same time, environmental water can continue to be recovered through water-saving infrastructure projects, which will benefit the environment, farmers and local communities more effectively than buybacks.

However, there were aspects of the Bill that the dairy industry did not support, in particular the fact that the 1500GL buybacks cap applies only to water recovered towards meeting the 2750GL target. Additionally, the failure to address long-standing limitations in the Water Act 2007 and the Basin Plan in achieving the socio-economic neutrality and triple bottom line outcomes promoted so often by decision-makers is a missed opportunity.

The ADIC’s key recommendations in the submission to the Bill were to:

  • Ensure that the 1500GL cap on buybacks includes the 450GL in the Water for the Environment Special Account
  • Clarify that the entitlement transfer to the Commonwealth relating to infrastructure and reconfiguration for state programs are excluded in the 1500GL cap on buy backs.
  • The Basin Plan socio-economic neutrality test should include collective impacts on irrigation districts, community and water market.
  • Amend the Basin Plan to ensure that the 2750GL target is achieved first before any water recovery is counted towards the 3200GL target, and that any water recovered under the Special Account first covers any shortfall to the 2750GL target.
  • Clarify that the 450GL “up water” is an up-to amount, not a minimum.
  • Enable environmental water trading where the proceeds can be reinvested in works and activities for environmental outcomes, and to cover the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s storage and other costs.

Bipartisan support for the legislative change remains a key priority for the ADIC, with representatives meeting with both sides of parliament to ensure the importance of passing the 2015 Water Amendment Bill is heard and acknowledged across the board.

To see the ADIC’s submission to the 2015 Water Amendment Bill click here

 

 

 

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