Win for com­mon sense

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Ge­off Adams

A de­ci­sion by state wa­ter min­is­ters in Mel­bourne on Fri­day on the Mur­rayDar­ling Basin Plan has been hailed a com­mon­sense out­come by ir­ri­gation com­mu­ni­ties.

The min­is­ters de­cided any more wa­ter to be trans­ferred out of agri­cul­ture to the en­vi­ron­ment can only hap­pen where there was a neu­tral or pos­i­tive im­pact on com­mu­ni­ties.

More than 200 peo­ple, mostly from north­ern Vic­to­ria and the south­ern Rive­rina, marched to the meet­ing venue in Mel­bourne to de­mand bet­ter con­sid­er­a­tion for ir­ri­ga­tors.

Peak dairy body Aus­tralian Dairy In­dus­try Coun­cil de­scribed the de­ci­sion as a coup for strug­gling agri­cul­ture.

‘‘We are re­lieved and grate­ful that the min­is­ters agreed to a so­cio-eco­nomic test that is fair for all farm­ers be­cause, as it stands, lo­cal dairy­de­pen­dent com­mu­ni­ties can­not tol­er­ate more wa­ter and job losses,’’ ADIC wa­ter task­force chair Daryl Hoey said.

The Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin is home to about 1405 dairy farms, rep­re­sent­ing more than 1.8 bil­lion litres, about 20 per cent of Aus­tralia’s to­tal milk pool.

Vic­to­rian Wa­ter Min­is­ter Lisa Neville said the agree­ment en­sured there was a strong so­cioe­co­nomic cri­te­ria re­quired for the 450 Gl of ex­tra wa­ter.

There was also agree­ment on a Vic­to­rian mo­tion the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity would do ex­tra work on de­liv­er­abil­ity, con­straints and im­pacts of higher flows and agree­ment on fund­ing to al­low states to de­liver en­vi­ron­men­tal off­set projects.

She said the so­cioe­co­nomic cri­te­ria re­flected the neu­tral­ity test Vic­to­ria and NSW agreed on this year and pro­vided the com­mu­nity with con­fi­dence that so­cio-eco­nomic im­pacts would be prop­erly ad­dressed, in­clud­ing the con­sid­er­a­tion of cu­mu­la­tive, re­gion-wide im­pacts, wa­ter prices and any im­pact on jobs.

‘‘Vic­to­ria has al­ready done much of the heavy lift­ing on wa­ter re­cov­ery, and the adop­tion of these cri­te­ria will mean fur­ther re­cov­ery will need to have

On the road: Ir­ri­ga­tors as­sem­bled for the rally in Mel­bourne on Fri­day.

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