Federal Govt must withdraw from Vic water market: VFF

THE VICTORIAN Farmers Federation has called upon the Federal government to withdraw from the Victorian water market, following the settlement of a deal which the organisation says will place Victoria in excess of its in-catchment commitments under a Basin Plan.
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Andrew Broad, Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) President welcomed the joint announcement from the Federal and State governments to provide $1.2 billion investment into Stage 2 Food bowl Modernisation and on farm projects in return for 302GL of water for the environment.

“Funding for Stage 2 modernisation has been three years in the making. This significant investment into our Northern irrigation region will boost economic development as well as providing benefits to both irrigators and the environment, Mr Broad said.

“Preliminary Basin Plan figures circulating in recent weeks have indicated that the environmental assets of Victorian catchments alone require the return of 640GL of water.

“From the VFF’s calculations, the combined volume of water available for the environment from State based water recovery projects, Commonwealth government buybacks to date and Victorian water saving infrastructure projects places Victoria over the slated 640GL. We are also starting to contribute water to the Southern Basin share reduction.

With the impending release of the Basin Plan, this announcement of significant funding into irrigated agriculture is timely and demonstrates the importance of investing in infrastructure projects to meet the demands of the Basin Plan.

Through this deal, 88GL of Victorian irrigator entitlement which had held back by the Victorian 4% cap will be transferred to the government in addition to 214GL of water savings from the Northern Victorian Irrigation Renewal Project and on farm efficiencies. This clearly shows that there is much which can be done through infrastructure projects to deliver water to the environment, without compromising existing user’s rights.

“Recent comments made in the media by the Australia Conservation Foundation exhibit a failure to comprehend the importance of infrastructure projects in providing dual benefits for irrigators and the environment while minimising the socio-economic impacts on communities which have been seen from Federal water buyback”.

“Right now the Basin Plan numbers are uncertain and there is still a 20 week public consultation period ahead which should shape the final outcome.”

The VFF said it is calling upon the Federal government to suspend buyback of Victorian water entitlement, other than strategic purchase.

“Jumping into further water purchase with so much uncertainty would be simply Mr Broad said.

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