Irrigators and communities shut out of water sharing plans – again
State and federal
authorities are planning to ram through NSW water sharing and resource plans by
the end of the year, ignoring stakeholder pleas for further consultation.
Association of Australia president Rob Massina said the situation was
outrageous, given departmental delays in preparing draft plans had left little
time for proper community engagement.
are more important than a genuine community partnership on water management,”
Mr Massina said.
“This has been the
modus operandi for state and federal decision-makers forcing through water
reforms over the past decade. And they wonder why people are so angry.”
The 2020 water
sharing plans determine the availability and security of water for growing food
and fibre in NSW river valleys for the next decade.
The plans also inform
Water Resource Plans to be submitted to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority by
31 December, explaining how NSW will meet the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s
Sustainable Diversion Limits and other requirements.
Draft water sharing
plans belatedly exhibited for public comment in recent months raised alarm that
more water would be diverted to the environment, on top of entitlements already
held under the Basin Plan, at the expense of allocations to water entitlement
The RGA and other
stakeholders wrote to NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey on 4 November requesting
stakeholder and community meetings to review the water sharing and resource
plans before their submission to the MDBA.
“This was a
reasonable request, given the Department’s history of ignoring community
feedback on past water sharing plans,” Mr Massina said. “Then last week the
department advised us no meeting would take place, and we should just trust
them that all will be well.
“This is unacceptable
on so many fronts. It is a breach of process, much less community trust – the resource
plans are required to have had community engagement and support under the Basin
“And it is yet
another example of a Basin Plan driven by deadlines and water recovery targets,
and to hell with the socioeconomic and water market impacts.
“The federal minister
David Littleproud must intervene to extend the 31 December deadline. It is not
the fault of our farmers and communities that departments have dragged their
heels, yet we are the ones being punished if these plans are rammed through.”