Leeton Shire Council fully supported the aspiration to achieve a Murray Darling Basin River System that is healthy and can sustainably support a prosperous, diverse irrigated agricultural sector and its communities. This is in response to a Mayoral Minute put to its 22 May Ordinary Council Meeting.
Council also endorsed the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s 5-year assessment inquiry into the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and will be asking that Ministerial Council acts quickly in response. The Commission made 38 recommendations, including advocating for reform to Basin Plan governance arrangements.
Leeton Shire Council Mayor Paul Maytom said there is increasing community concern about water security and water affordability for our farming sector.
As the birthplace of the MIA, he considers it is both timely and important for Leeton Shire Council to consider and publicly confirm its position on the matter of water policy and the Murray Darling Basin Plan so that the direction of Council’s advocacy is clear.
“Water policy in the context of the Murray Darling Basin Plan is undeniably complex. There have clearly been issues with the delivery of the Plan and what we need more than ever is strong and honest leadership rather than a new Plan. There needs to be clearly articulated direction, better governance and greater transparency if we are to achieve the intent of the Murray Darling Basin Plan without compromising the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA).”
“It is important to remember that the original draft Basin Plan was significantly more onerous on our MIA irrigators than the one we have today. It took skillful and determined negotiation to get where we got to in 2012. If we reopen the debate on recovery targets we risk finding ourselves in a worse position with greater demands to give up productive water.”
Mayor Maytom applauded the farming community for their adaptability and resilience, noting there is good evidence that productivity in the MIA has not waned since 2012 but is indeed growing.
“Our farmers and research sector are getting increasingly smart about farming with less water and more skilled with water trading opportunities.”
The Mayor also said Council reiterated that it is important not to confuse the impacts of a drought with the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“The current and previous droughts have undoubtedly impacted irrigation communities. While we can’t blame the Basin Plan for the drought, we need to ensure the water trading during drought is fair and transparent and not subject to investor or market manipulation.”
To download the full water policy position statement, click here