Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Senator wants ‘practical’ spending from govt


Money being thrown at an Off-farm Efficiency Program to generate water savings for the environmen­t would be better spent on ‘‘practical things that will achieve better environmen­tal outcomes, such as complement­ary measures’’, according to Deniliquin-based Senator Perin Davey.

The Federal Government has made $1.33 billion available to fund projects that generate water savings offfarm through the State Led Off-farm stream.

These savings will count towards the 450 gigalitres of water the Murray-Darling Basin Plan requires to deliver enhanced environmen­tal outcomes.

Senator Davey said she and her fellow Nationals senators tried to move amendments because ‘‘it is my preference that we don’t pursue the 450’’.

‘‘As it stands, we are tied by existing legislatio­n, but this time the program has been designed consistent with the very strong social and economic test that this region fought so hard for, and was accepted by the Basin Ministeria­l Council nearly two years ago.

‘‘I am pleased we are focused on on-farm projects, but I won’t be holding my breath for any significan­t water recovery.

‘‘I know the low hanging fruit has gone. As Murray Irrigation’s chair Phil Snowden said (on ABC radio on Wednesday), this region has no more water to give and I applaud Murray Irrigation for coming out early saying they would not be giving up any more water.

‘‘The Murray Irrigation area has so much potential for environmen­tal projects that should be looked at totally separate from water recovery targets.

‘‘The area should be the pilot region for a new approach to environmen­tal water management, working with landholder­s and Murray Irrigation, and that is what I am advocating for.’’

Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt said Murray–Darling Basin states are being invited to nominate infrastruc­ture projects through the Off-farm Efficiency Program.

‘‘I acknowledg­e that generating 450 gigalitres of water savings by 2024 is a tall order, but my commitment is to push as hard as we can to make our irrigation networks as efficient as possible,’’ Mr Pitt said.

‘‘Working with the states on this sort of infrastruc­ture agenda will generate jobs, improve delivery of water to farms, and increases water available for growing crops — all while contributi­ng towards the target.

‘‘Saving water this way is a win for farmers and for the environmen­t.’’

The Off-Farm Efficiency Program includes $1.33 billion for state-led off-farm projects, and $60 million is also available for the state led on-farm stream.

‘‘We need to talk to those who own and operate offfarm irrigation infrastruc­ture — it’s important that we check that the thinking done in Canberra office blocks will work on the ground,’’ Mr Pitt said.

Consultati­on on the direct grant program is open for 10 business days, closing on Friday, August 20. Visit haveyoursa­­ram for more informatio­n or to have your say.

 ??  ?? ■ Perin Davey.
■ Perin Davey.

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