Brumby death anger

Shepparton News - Country News - - FRONT PAGE -

The agree­ment reached at this month’s meet­ing of Aus­tralian wa­ter min­is­ters will likely see the end of the on-farm ef­fi­ciency pro­grams in which farm­ers gave up wa­ter in ex­change for ir­ri­gation up­grades.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Mur­ray Damian Drum said the new def­i­ni­tion around the im­pact of the trans­fer of wa­ter to the en­vi­ron­ment, meant that the loss of wa­ter from one farm would have to be con­sid­ered in a wider con­text for the com­mu­nity.

The wa­ter min­is­ters have adopted a new def­i­ni­tion for ‘neu­tral or pos­i­tive’ so­cioe­co­nomic im­pact on the trans­fer of wa­ter.

In­stead of the im­pact be­ing judged on one in­di­vid­ual, it will be ap­plied to a whole com­mu­nity.

‘‘We now have a bet­ter def­i­ni­tion by which we can judge any fu­ture pro­ject that comes for­ward,’’ Mr Drum said fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion.

Mr Drum, who at­tended the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Min­is­te­rial Coun­cil meet­ing in Mel­bourne on De­cem­ber 14, agreed the next step would be to watch closely how the new def­i­ni­tion was ap­plied on wa­ter projects.

The MinCo meet­ing over­came re­sis­tance from South Aus­tralia, which had been ex­pected to be a ma­jor block­age.

Mr Drum said the suc­cess was due to the na­tional ap­proach spear­headed by Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud.

He said the Fed­eral Govern­ment was able to ne­go­ti­ate with the South Aus­tralian Govern­ment to achieve fund­ing for wa­ter projects vi­tal to South Aus­tralians.

He said the projects would as­sist the health of the Coorong and the use of the de­sali­na­tion plant.

‘‘The wa­ter min­is­ter was able to de­liver what the South Aus­tralians needed, un­der an ap­proach which will ul­ti­mately ben­e­fit Goul­burn Mur­ray ir­ri­ga­tors.’’

Mr Drum de­scribed the out­come as an early Christ­mas present.

‘‘If we lose the next elec­tion and Tony Bourke was in this po­si­tion, he would have no in­ter­est see­ing this done.

‘‘Twelve, six and even two months ago ev­ery­one was won­der­ing how we were gong to pull all this to­gether.’’

Asked about how the green lobby would re­spond to the new def­i­ni­tion, Mr Drum said the very sim­ple an­swer was that the ex­tra 450 Gl was al­ways an ad­di­tional amount above the agreed 2750 Gl for the Mur­rayDar­ling Basin.

‘‘This was al­ways an ad­di­tional 450, worded in the way of up to 450, if you go back to the orig­i­nal word­ing.

‘‘We are just re­turn­ing back to the orig­i­nal word­ing of the (Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin) plan.’’

He said the river­ine com­mu­ni­ties had al­ready given up large vol­umes of wa­ter to en­sure the fu­ture health of the rivers.

Clear mes­sage . . . Ir­ri­ga­tors ral­lied in Mel­bourne re­cently out­side the meet­ing of wa­ter min­is­ters.

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