Call for stronger re­cov­ery rules

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

A wa­ter lead­er­ship group is work­ing on de­vel­op­ing a list of tests that should be ap­plied to wa­ter re­cov­ery steps to avoid neg­a­tive im­pacts on north­ern Vic­to­rian com­mu­ni­ties.

The Goul­burn Mur­ray Irrigation District Wa­ter Lead­er­ship Group met last week in Shep­par­ton to dis­cuss the prospect of fur­ther wa­ter re­cov­ery for the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is widen­ing the so­cio-eco­nomic neu­tral­ity test for re­cov­er­ing an ex­tra 450 Gl of wa­ter.

GMID Wa­ter Lead­er­ship Group co-chair David McKen­zie said the group dis­cussed ma­jor tests — which if ap­plied, and the an­swer was in the neg­a­tive — should strike out that project.

These in­cluded any re­cov­ery tech­nique that would re­sult in cost pres­sures on wa­ter prices, any tech­nique that re­sulted in a trans­fer­ral of costs in the sup­ply chain, and any tech­nique that cre­ated third party price im­pacts.

‘‘There are fur­ther tests which we be­lieve should be ap­plied to wa­ter re­cov­ery projects, and we will be ar­tic­u­lat­ing those af­ter we have pro­cessed the out­comes of the meet­ing,’’ Mr McKen­zie said.

He said the lead­er­ship group did not want to see any wa­ter re­cov­ery projects that were ap­proached from a ‘‘lazy’’ per­spec­tive, which sim­ply pulled wa­ter out of pro­duc­tive agri­cul­tural use.

Mr McKen­zie said it was fan­tas­tic to see rep­re­sen­ta­tives from such a breadth of in­dus­tries and or­gan­i­sa­tions stand­ing up for the re­gion’s fu­ture.

‘‘We had a wealth of knowl­edge and ex­per­tise in the room and a lot of ro­bust dis­cus­sion about what so­cio-eco­nomic neu­tral­ity means for the GMID and that will put us in a very strong po­si­tion when it comes to ad­vo­cat­ing for the needs of this re­gion,’’ he said.

‘‘We have agreed on a way for­ward and the next step is to now flesh out the de­tail of our po­si­tion and put that to basin gov­ern­ments for con­sid­er­a­tion.

‘‘With only three months left un­til a new test is due to be fi­nalised, this is a time-sen­si­tive ex­er­cise and we will be hop­ing to de­liver our view of neu­tral­ity prin­ci­ples in the com­ing weeks.’’

GMID Wa­ter Lead­er­ship Group co-chair and State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Suzanna Sheed said the work­shop was an im­por­tant step in se­cur­ing a strong fu­ture for the lo­cal irrigation in­dus­try un­der the Mur­ray Dar­ling-Basin Plan.

‘‘We brought to­gether lead­ers from across the wa­ter, agri­cul­ture, en­vi­ron­ment and busi­ness in­dus­tries to take a de­tailed look at the im­pact of fur­ther wa­ter re­cov­ery on our re­gion and de­velop a united po­si­tion on pro­tect­ing our com­mu­ni­ties from fur­ther harm,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has said it will wi­den the so­cioe­co­nomic neu­tral­ity test for re­cov­er­ing an ad­di­tional 450 Gl of wa­ter from pro­duc­tive agri­cul­ture and we want to con­tribute to that dis­cus­sion.

‘‘What came through most strongly was recog­ni­tion that any so­cio-eco­nomic test must go be­yond in­di­vid­ual par­tic­i­pa­tion and con­sider the broader re­gional im­pact on com­mu­ni­ties.’’

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