Deniliquin Pastoral Times

RGA wants good pol­icy for all

- Water Security · Australia News · Ecology · Drought · Social Issues · Society · Natural Disasters · Disasters · Australia · New South Wales

The Rice­grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia used last week’s visit from Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity chair An­gus Hous­ton to re­in­force con­cerns about the im­pacts of wa­ter re­form on the Aus­tralian rice in­dus­try and grow­ers.

Pres­i­dent Rob Massina said the RGA is seek­ing changes that will bring a greater level of fair­ness and eq­uity in the dis­tri­bu­tion of re­form im­pacts, bet­ter recog­ni­tion of the highly vari­able na­ture of Aus­tralian wa­ter re­sources and gen­uine and mean­ing­ful com­mu­nity co-de­sign and par­tic­i­pa­tion in fu­ture wa­ter re­form.

‘‘The Rive­rina rice in­dus­try — which pro­duces 98 per cent of the rice grown in Aus­tralia — has de­vel­oped, over nearly a cen­tury, to be a world leader in yield, prod­uct qual­ity, in­no­va­tion and wa­ter ef­fi­ciency,’’ he said.

‘‘How­ever wa­ter re­form, and in par­tic­u­lar the rigid leg­isla­tive frame­work gov­ern­ing the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Plan, has placed the rice in­dus­try, our grow­ers and our com­mu­ni­ties un­der un­prece­dented pres­sure to re­main sus­tain­able.

‘‘The ar­chi­tects of the Basin Plan promised ir­ri­ga­tors cer­tainty. How­ever at the moment, the fu­ture for an­nual ir­ri­ga­tion has never been more uncer­tain and com­pli­cated.

‘‘In par­tic­u­lar, we high­lighted that gen­eral se­cu­rity ir­ri­ga­tors in the New South Wales Mur­ray and Mur­rumbidgee val­leys bear the brunt of re­duced in­flows and al­lo­ca­tions, in­creas­ing de­mand from ex­pand­ing ir­ri­ga­tion de­vel­op­ment driv­ing up wa­ter prices, the im­pacts of past wa­ter re­cov­ery and re­cent drought. The vi­a­bil­ity of our re­gion and its ir­ri­ga­tion pros­per­ity is at sig­nif­i­cant risk.’’

Mr Massina said as an in­de­pen­dent au­thor­ity, it is crit­i­cal the MDBA rep­re­sent good pol­icy for all wa­ter users.

‘‘For the rice in­dus­try, this means work­ing with us to re­solve our key is­sues raised in­clud­ing our con­cerns about the ero­sion of re­li­a­bil­ity of wa­ter en­ti­tle­ments, the in­creased river losses in the Mur­ray River sys­tem, and the lack of trans­parency around the state shar­ing of wa­ter re­sources,’’ he said.

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