Major agricultural industries across northern Victoria could be pushed over the edge, under the Gillard Government’s revised, yet virtually unchanged Murray Darling Basin Plan.
The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie said small dairying communities and Sunraysia’s horticultural sector would be extremely vulnerable to the final Basin Plan.
“These industries are the lifeblood of northern Victoria, and provide key economic activity and jobs.
“A socio-economic report noted a long term drop in the gross value of irrigated agricultural production could cost the Victorian Murray area $41.1 million a year.
“Following a 20 week consultation period, 24 public meetings, and nearly 12,000 submissions the Labor Government has failed to listen.”
Senator McKenzie said community and industry leaders had identified better ways to achieve the 2,750GL target, rather than robbing Basin communities of their livelihoods.
“The aim to improve environmental outcomes for the Basin can be achieved with less water.
“Recent Victorian modelling showed that the end goal could be achieved with a quarter less water, 2,100GL, if environmental works and measures were invested in.
“Victoria requested the Gillard Government invest a total of $380 million in environmental infrastructure works, but it instead deferred funding for efficiencies in the recent Budget.
“This decision smacks of laziness and demonstrates the Labor Government’s short-sightedness, highlighting its preference to buy water from irrigation communities rather than improve efficiencies.
“The revised plan remains a bad plan for Victoria, and I urge Federal Water Minister Tony Burke, who isn’t willing to sign off on the plan in its current form, to start real negotiations to achieve a balanced outcome for the states and environment.”