Are we ‘in the spirit’ of Basin Plan?

By Olivia Duffey

Making water available for farmers in dry years “was in the spirit of the design of the (basin) plan when it was first mooted by John Howard”, according to Federal Nationals Member for Nicholls Damian Drum.

He says the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has been asked to make water available for productive agriculture, which would be in keeping with this intention.

“We are examining conveyancing losses and our expectation is that the CEHW accept this loss on its accounting ledger in critical dry seasons,” Mr Drum said in a statement to a community protest rally in Tocumwal on Thursday.

The rally called for 1000 gigalitres of conveyance water to be allocated to irrigators in the Southern Basin, which would immediately provide relief, especially to those in southern NSW who are on zero allocation for the second consecutive year.

Rally organisers said it was time to stop talking about these potential solutions and start taking immediate action.

“Farmers across southern New South Wales and northern Victoria are frustrated, as we saw at the rally, because the Federal Government is doing nothing to help our cause,” said co-organiser Darcy Hare.

“Our farmers and communities are at breaking point. We have a federal Member of Parliament in Damian Drum who can see the problem and identify the solution, yet his colleague (Water Minister) David Littleproud does nothing except tell us this is the best plan we’ve got.’’

In his statement, Mr Drum said the government was “looking at various aspects of the Water Act 2007 to explore whether or not the Basin Plan was in contravention of the objectives within the Act’’.