Deniliquin Pastoral Times
RGA wants good policy for all
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.