Political move at the expense of Irrigators

 The reliability of General Security entitlements in the Murrumbidgee and NSW Murray valleys will be permanently reduced if the NSW Legislative Council drought of record motion is implemented.

“The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia is absolutely opposed to any action that needlessly erodes the capacity to grow food and fibre,” said RGA President Rob Massina.

“This would be a massive blow to our general security irrigators who are already dealing with the impacts of multiple policy changes eroding their water.”

The motion seeks to update modelling to take into account more recent droughts, ostensibly to protect town water supplies. In the NSW Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys, this means factoring in the worst years of the Millennium Drought.

However, multiple Drought Reserve Accounts were already established in the NSW Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys following the Millennium Drought precisely to protect town water. NSW Government management plans developed since further mitigate the risk.

So all the motion does is reduce the volume of water available on paper to allocate for growing food and fibre, without making any difference to security of supply for towns. 

The motion will inevitably lead to less water for general security allocation because the model will assume another Millennium Drought is always around the corner, requiring more water to be locked away in drought reserves even in average and wet years.

Furthermore, as most inflows occur in late winter to early spring, the update to the inflow modelling would have the greatest impact on these months, meaning allocations will be made later in the season, too late for planting rice and other summer crops.

“All in all, this motion would  see less water made available for General Security irrigators, and a further reduction to water use across the system, further contributing to the underusage problem identified by SunRice and the RGA in the RMCG report commissioned last year, and further undermining of the reliability of property rights” said Mr Massina  

The motion was proposed by independent NSW MP, Justin Field, and supported by the NSW Labor Opposition, One Nation, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, the Animal Justice Party and the Greens.

“These politicians have either chosen to ignore the risk to regional economies, or are otherwise seeking a political win, at the expense of our general security allocation and irrigators.

“Thankfully the NSW Minister for Water is not required to act on this motion per se, and the RGA has written to the Minister to make it clear that our growers, industry and communities cannot support these proposed changes,” Mr Massina concluded.