IN THIS SECTION:
Statement on NFF President on southern basin meetings
19 November 2019
Last week, I led a delegation of NFF and representatives of NFF member organisations in meetings with farmer representatives and others in the southern basin communities of Griffith, Mildura and surrounds.
These are communities under pressure. Under pressure from drought, from high water prices, from low general security water allocations and from uncertainty.
It's fair to say we heard a diverse range of views in respect of the water debate. A number of people we spoke to recognised that there were several contributing factors to the current challenges and each were approaching the situation in a different way.
Across the board there are legitimate concerns about the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Many of which the NFF share. The NFF continues to consider the broad spectrum of solutions, to these concerns in a manner which is representative of the majority view of members, and informed by a diverse set of information.
The Plan as it currently stands is not doing the best job it could. It's implementation has been inefficient and lacklustre.
So how do we fix that?
We continue to hear calls to pause the plan, scrap the plan and, or to call a royal commission. The NFF Water Committee meets regularly (at least monthly) to review its disposition to these suggestions. We continue to have these options under scrutiny, but do not yet see the benefits of supporting any of them.
There are a few salient reasons why:
The NFF is very concerned about the impacts being felt across the country right now. There are, as the farmers we met with identified, a range of contributing factors to the current challenging times.
We understand that allocations in the Southern Basin are at critical lows and for longer than seen before. It is also the case that water pricing is high, though not at record prices yet.
We will continue to listen – especially to members, continue to engage with policy makers, and continue to seek to fix problems with the Plan. The NFF will also continue to advocate for drought support, where necessary.
The NFF will continue to lead Australian agriculture through these fraught times - the core purpose, and I think, the great benefit of, a Federated representative body.
Media Enquiries: Laureta Wallace
National Agriculture Day 2019