In the lead up to today’s Ministerial Council meeting on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Environment Victoria has released a briefing paper explaining the most efficient ways to deliver the Basin Plan on time.
“Victoria and NSW are trying to kick the can down the road when it comes to achieving the targets set by the Basin Plan,” said Environment Victoria Healthy Rivers Campaigner Tyler Rotche.
“In 2024, the MDBA needs to assess whether enough water has been recovered, but Victoria wants to shirk responsibility by delaying the date of this assessment.”
Mr Rotche said federal Water Minister Keith Pitt’s decision to take voluntary buybacks and on-farm efficiency projects off the table have made it impossible to recover the volumes of water required by the Basin Plan.
“Minister Pitt’s limitations are entirely self-imposed and would come at the cost of the health of the entire river system.
“To deliver the Basin Plan we need to spend smarter. Governments should focus on the most cost-effective and reliable mechanisms to deliver water.
“For water recovery, this means leaning into voluntary open tender buybacks instead of expensive and risky infrastructure subsidies, which take up to 14 years at 25 times the price.
“These infrastructure subsidies are often just corporate handouts that almost always end up in the hands of big agribusinesses, not family farms.”
Mr Rotche also said the proposed offset projects are “an affront to First Nations principles of water management”.
“They rely on a warped accounting mechanism that trades off benefits to frogs at one site for losses to red gums at another. They turn living wetlands into engineered holding ponds.
“For nourishing the floodplain, spending smarter means relaxing constraints rather than offset projects.
“The solution is straightforward – government needs to work with private landholders to let the water flow through their property. States have had years and $1 billion in funding to fix this problem. Time to hurry up and get it done.”
Tyler Rotche, Environment Victoria Healthy Rivers Campaigner
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