Recent Murray River Group of Councils conversations in Canberra have been dominated by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, with the group of six councils driving home the importance of getting the plan right during two days of meetings with ministers and water authorities.
The group of councils — which includes Campaspe, Moira and Gannawarra shires — attended meetings with advisers from Water Minister Barnaby Joyce’s office, opposition water spokesperson Tony Burke and Murray-Darling Basin Authority chief executive officer Phillip Glyde.
Group chair Adrian Weston said the ‘‘very significant and negative’’ accumulative effect of retrieving the 450Gl of up-water was a key point of their discussions.
‘‘We’re concerned about any future or further water recovery that has the potential to cross thresholds and affect irrigation districts and industries,’’ Cr Weston said.
‘‘As an overarching view with any future water recovery, we don’t want to see it come out of the consumptive pool. We want to see it achieved through efficiencies.
‘‘I think it’s fair to say (those we spoke with) understand our position and by and large all of the ministers and the MDBA basically support the plan being implemented in full.
‘‘And regarding the 450Gl of up-water, that includes being able to recover the water without any negative social and economic impacts.’’
The topic of the 650Gl offsets, a key part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s 2750Gl recovery target, was also discussed at length with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
‘‘It’s important that the MDBA certainly support everyone and that as much of the 650Gl offsets that can be achieved, be achieved,’’ Cr Weston said.
‘‘Everyone is keen to see that and the decision time for how to go about that is approaching. The timeframe from the 450Gl of up-water looks like it will stretch out until 2024.
‘‘It’s not quite here and now and as pressing as ensuring we’re all in agreeance with the offsetting of the amount of water that needs to be recovered.’’
Alongside connectivity and investment, Cr Weston said rising energy costs and uncertainty about future supply was also a key concern of the group and was discussed at length throughout their meeting with Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.
‘‘We discussed with the energy minister the huge potential for solar generation in our region and the investment in additional grid capacity required to unlock it.
‘‘It’s great to have the investment in the renewables, but we need to ensure we’ve got the capacity in the distribution network.’’