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2019 Winter - A thirst for certainty; irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin

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FPJ1602E - Gordon, L (2019), Murray-Darling Basin water reform – reaching the delta

FPJ1602E - Gordon, L (2019), Murray-Darling Basin water reform – reaching the delta, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 16, no. 2, Winter 2019, pp. 36-44, Surry Hills, Australia.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) last wrote for the Farm Policy Journal on reform in the Murray-Darling Basin. Water policy by its very nature is very complex, contested and based on compromise. A key concern identified in 2013, is the 605 GL efficiency gains known as ‘downwater’. The priority to deliver consumptive water may have compromised the objectives of environmental watering. This has been seriously exacerbated by the drought. The overriding limitation is the capacity of the channel, made worse when there are unseasonal dry conditions, and not supplemented by other delivery sources. 
The Productivity Commission (PC) five-yearly review commenced during 2018, with the final report published in January this year. The report’s recommendations are not all perfect and, in a vacuum, NFF would probably not support them all. However, given the circumstances, the political and community unrest and the untimely intervention of a pernicious drought, we support the recommendations in full to provide an unequivocal pathway to sensible reform. 
NFF and the National Irrigators’ Council, and all our members, are broadly on the same page; namely to implement the Plan as sensitively and sensibly as possible and to not be distracted by calls for further inquiries and commissions beyond what is required to deliver the PC recommendations. Further, as a strong industry, we must work together to identify ongoing areas of consensus improvement for the delivery of the Plan for basin communities, irrigators and the environment. 
















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