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Simson says stick with the plan

13 February 2019

Keep the cap, that's the message from the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) and hundreds of concerned Basin residents who signed a petition overnight to oppose (another) shortsighted Greens stunt.

In a bid to further politicise the Murray Darling Basin Plan, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, introduced a motion calling for the removal of the 1500 gigalitre cap from the Water Act. The motion will be debated in the Senate today and unbelievably, has the support of the Labor Opposition.

"The 1500GL cap is a mechanism to ensure that acquiring water from the irrigation sector is balanced (especially to mitigate the impact of water buy backs on Basin communities) in the Murray Darling Basin Plan (Plan) with other measures such as infrastructure and efficiency," NFF President Fiona Simson said.

"Already, more than 1220GL has been acquired (nowhere near the cap) and over 700GL through infrastructure improvements. This is the Plan at work."

Ms Simson said she was concerned the proposal to remove the cap was being rushed.

"There has been no consultation and it is not a recommendation of the Productivity Commission.

"The Productivity Commission has only just released its five-yearly report on the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

"This report contains comprehensive and forward-looking recommendations to refocus the delivery of the Plan. It is the blueprint for its further implementation."

"Basin communities are struggling under the pernicious effects of drought and water pricing, (where water is available) which are at historical highs. Further uncertainty in the form of meddling with the Water Act is not welcome."

Ms Simson said she acknowledged the Labor Opposition had mapped a pathway where exceeding the cap was likely to occur, but given the current buyback of 1220GL it did seem a bit early to be acting.

"We call on Labor Water Spokesperson, Tony Burke to restate his commitment to the bipartisan agreement he made with Minister David Littleproud and to commit to delivering the Plan based on the Productivity Commission's recommendations.

"Public policy certainty is a key platform to deliver a complex basin plan, that's where the focus needs to be. Keep the cap, stick with the plan," Ms Simson said.

"I urge all Basin community members to sign the #KeepTheCap petition and let Canberra know loud and clear, that meddling with the Water Act is not in the interests of their town or their river."

The NFF is expecting many more signatures to be added to the #KeepTheCap petition today.

Sign the petition: farmers.org.au/campaign/keepthecap/

Media Enquiries: Laureta Wallace
P: 0408 448 250
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