Ricegrowers' call for all likely General Security to be allocated now.

20 August 2021

The NSW allocation announcements on Monday 16 August 2021 were extremely disappointing for irrigators in both the Murray and Murrumbidgee systems. Despite many farmers in southern NSW being told to prepare for flood conditions, Murray General Security sits at a frustrating 30%, with Murrumbidgee General Security not much better at 52%.

President of the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA), Rob Massina said “with the supplementary event in the Murray ending unexpectedly this week as well, our members are now essentially stuck, with nowhere left to go, at the most critical point in their planning cycle.”

“We believe this is unacceptable, and entirely avoidable under the NSW water sharing framework. We are not asking for more than our fair share of the water that’s predicted to be available.”

Mr Massina stated, “What our members want is no different to what environmental water holders currently have access to – we want to optimise our available water at the time in our planning cycle that’s most sensible for us.”

The RGA don’t believe this is inconsistent with the current NSW Water Sharing Plans and Murray Darling Basin Agreement, and think it would go a long way towards boosting grower confidence in the Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys.

“We have a very small window over the coming month to ensure rice growers are able to use all the water they’re legally entitled to across the current season” Mr Massina said. 

Immediate improvements in the following areas will go a long way towards making this happen:
1. Why has this unregulated event been halted, which has stopped supplementary access for general security and supplementary licence holders?  What has caused this change? 
2. Why are early General Security allocations being tracked against such conservative estimates of future inflows?  How can we better reflect the strong likelihood of continued high inflows? 
3. Given the high volumes of water moving through the Murray system, is an immediate payback of the Barmah-Millewa Water Allocation necessary?  How can we make these payback arrangements fairer for all General Security licence holders?

“The RGA have been calling for water allocation transparency from the MDBA down through to the Basin State Governments. The questions above are all ones growers are asking.” 

“We are calling on all water agencies to provide clarity for General Security entitlement holders about the allocation of water and decisions that impact on availability, to enable growers to make informed business decisions.”