The promise made by Julia Gillard and Tony Burke when the 450Gl of up-water set out in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was announced needs to be kept according to the National Irrigators Council’s chief executive officer.
Steve Whan was the guest speaker at a Committee for Greater Shepparton breakfast and said more parties needed to make sure the promise made back in 2012 was kept.
‘‘At the time that 450 (Gl) was announced the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard and then (water) Minister Tony Burke said this would be delivered with a positive or at least no negative impact on communities and that promise has to be kept and that should be the bottom line.
‘‘The current test in the legislation is not adequate for that and we need to see recognition from all parties including the federal Opposition and the South Australian Government that that test will be kept,’’ he said.
Mr Whan said despite irrigators not wanting the up-water, ideas on how to deliver it needed to be discussed.
‘‘The 450Gl of up-water in the basin plan is something irrigators would rather not see. We would rather not have to deliver it but we recognise there is a basin plan commitment to having that there and really the key thing at the moment is if it is going to be delivered we need to work with government to find a way of delivering it without further socio-economic harm,’’ he said.
‘‘I think there is possibilities of doing that but the important thing is that we actually explore those.’’
With the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District already feeling the effects of the plan, Mr Whan said the full extent of the damage would be felt during another drought.
‘‘We know that the big test will be a future drought as to what happens to some of the permanent plantings and so on,’’ he said.
The GMID Water Leadership Forum recently met with representatives from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan with discussions described as ‘‘like watching a tennis match’’.