Ricegrowers deliver plan priorities

By Zoe McMaugh

Three priority points from ricegrowers regarding the Murray-Darling Basin Plan were handed to Murray-Darling Basin Authority chair Neil Andrew on his recent visit to Deniliquin.

Mr Andrew met with representatives from SunRice and Ricegrowers Association of Australia (RGA) during the visit, and was also given a tour of the Deniliquin Rice Mill.

RGA president Jeremy Morton said it was a chance to show Mr Andrew how the industry is adapting to changes resulting from the Basin Plan and its outcomes.

He said it was also an opportunity to provide guidance to the MDBA on how it could limit impacts on the industry through advice to the Federal Government and other associated authorities.

‘‘The main reason the MDBA came to Deniliquin was firstly to acknowledge that this area and the (rice) industry has been hit around the ears a bit (because of the Basin Plan),’’ Mr Morton said.

‘‘The fact it acknowledges that is positive.

‘‘We wanted Neil to understand how the industry is adapting to the impacts of the Basin Plan, and what the MDBA can do for us.

‘‘Certainly one message we gave Neil was to go back to the government and don’t sugarcoat what’s happening.’’

Mr Morton said the RGA presented Mr Andrew with a letter outlining the organisation’s three main concerns about the Basin Plan.

Priority one relates to the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism, efficiency measures and the 450GL of ‘up-water’. It urged the MDBA to continue the job of implementing the Basin Plan, but to work with basin governments and stakeholders to find constructive, collaborative and innovative solutions that avoid further productive water recovery and mitigate further social and economic impacts for communities and industries.

Priority two relates to the SDL adjustment mechanism and the 605GL of ‘down-water’ and encouraging the MDBA to help basin governments recognise constraints issues.

‘‘These significant constraints mean that it is unlikely a river operator will achieve a flow of 80,000 megalitres per day at the South Australian border, without incurring significant damage to property,’’ it says in the RGA’s priority document.

RGA’s third priority calls on the MDBA to realise and use its ‘‘unique position to be a leader in developing and proposing to government new and innovative policy solutions that ensure we remain world leaders in water management’’.

This priority calls on the MDBA to:

●Work with government to examine opportunities to assist irrigators to adjust to the consequences of water reform.

●Pursue a national trade platform.

●Improve its own water allocation processes, and assist the NSW Government to do the same.

●Recognise and recommend to governments that it is critical that the deadline for the completion of Water Resource Plans be extended to ensuring the process is done to a high quality.

●Address key unintended and negative consequences of water reform in the movement of large parcels of water from established irrigation infrastructure operators to newly established irrigation developments.