Nation wide protest today in Basin communities over water buy-backs

Farmers are questioning why they’re not receiving the same level of consideration as communities impacted by coal mining closures with the Albanese Government set to implement drastic changes to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Thousands of people living in Basin communities are expected to take part in today’s rallies calling on the Albanese Government to consider the severe impacts on farmers and the socio-economic fall-out they say will jeopardise rural and regional towns because of water buy-backs.

Chair of the NSW Farmers Water Taskforce, Richard Bootle, said one of the biggest failings of the proposed changes to the MDBP is the lack of socioeconomic analysis and reporting on the measures.

“This has led to insufficient consideration of the impact of the Plan on rural communities which are reliant on agriculture.

“For arguably the biggest reform to regional Australia in history this is an incredible oversight,” Mr Bootle said.

NSW Farmers believes the lack of consultation with impacted communities has subsequently led to poor policy design both in terms of how water has been secured for the environment at the expense of farming communities, and structural adjustment programs aimed at assisting communities who have been negatively impacted.

“The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is almost 10 years old yet impacts on regional communities continue to be ignored by policy makers. At best, this is a clear example of policy-on-the-run,” Mr Bootle said.

“Why have irrigation communities not received the same level of consideration as those communities reliant on coal mining? For example, the NSW Government has set aside at least $25 million each year from mining royalties to support coal mining communities through the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund.

“The Productivity Commission already acknowledged in their first review of the plan in 2018 that many community members said they were dissatisfied with the level of transparency and consultation, and nothing has changed in the five years since.”

-NSW Farmers