The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has criticised the report prepared by the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District Leadership Group for over-stating the impact of the river plan on agriculture in the region.
The criticism has drawn a response from the consultants who prepared the report for failing to tackle the central issue of the impact on the Goulburn Murray region of the water recovery plan.
In a report addressing the progress of the first five years of the plan, the authority report released last week said some previous social and economic studies had sought to build an understanding of the effects of the basin plan water recovery on irrigated production and the community more broadly (RMCG, Frontier Economics).
‘‘In particular, they attempted to estimate the effects of current and future basin plan water recovery on different irrigated industries and regions,’’ the report said.
‘‘Their analyses only consider individual wet, dry and average years, and only incorporate the effects of trade using annual average temporary water prices. They also fail to give full recognition of the production benefits arising from the off and on-farm infrastructure investment (as well as the use of the proceeds from selling water entitlements).
‘‘Taking into account these underlying assumptions, the MDBA considers that these approaches are likely to over-estimate the basin plan effects.’’
Rob Rendell, whose company RMCG produced the GMID Leadership Group report, said authority chief executive Phil Glyde referred in his letter to the recently-released document that provides an ‘‘evaluation of the outcomes of the first five years of basin plan implementation’’.
‘‘Unfortunately the evaluation document does not provide any sensible evaluation of the outcomes to the GMID but rather just criticises the work by RMCG and Frontier Economics. This work has been corroborated by the two completely different studies and has considerable support from the community. Further, the MDBA evaluation claims all of the benefits of increased productivity, such as the growth in horticulture, and downplays any impacts. The document provides very little detail but deals in generalities, completely underestimating the impact on the GMID region,’’ Mr Rendell said.