National Irrigators’ Council chief executive officer "Steve Whan" said the promises made when the 450Gl of up-water was set out in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan needed to be kept.
Mr Whan was a guest speaker at a Committee for Greater Shepparton breakfast recently and said more parties needed to make sure the delivery of the water would have a positive — or at least no negative — socio-economic impacts attached.
‘‘At the time that 450 (Gl) was announced, the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard and then (Water) Minister Tony Burke said this would be delivered with a positive or at least no negative impact on communities and that promise has to be kept and that should be the bottom line,’’ Mr Whan said.
‘‘The current test in the legislation is not adequate for that and we need to see recognition from all parties, including the Federal Opposition and the South Australian Government, that that test will be kept.’’
Mr Whan said despite irrigators not wanting the up-water, ideas on how to deliver it needed to be discussed.
‘‘The 450Gl of up-water in the basin plan is something irrigators would rather not see.
‘‘We would rather not have to deliver it but we recognise there is a basin plan commitment to having that there and really the key thing at the moment is if it is going to be delivered we need to work with government to find a way of delivering it without further socio-economic harm.
‘‘I think there is possibilities of doing that but the important thing is that we actually explore those.’’
Mr Whan said it was a positive to have both Barnaby Joyce and Tony Burke in the water portfolios for their respective parties.
‘‘I think we are quite lucky in the water space really because Barnaby Joyce is someone who who is very keen, very passionate about the issues and is very pro-farmers,’’ he said.
‘‘On the other side, we have Tony Burke who introduced the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and understands it intimately.
‘‘So it’s good to have a minister and shadow minister that understand it well and that’s a good start.’’
With the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District already feeling the effects of the plan, Mr Whan said the full extent of the damage would be felt during another drought.
‘‘We know that the big test will be a future drought as to what happens to some of the permanent plantings and so on.’’