UDV and VFF want MinCo meeting to make basin plan changes

By Rodney Woods

The UDV is calling for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to urgently change to ensure the dairy industry has some certainty and confidence to create the jobs needed to help Australia recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With northern Victoria making up the majority of dairy production in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, UDV president Paul Mumford said the June 19 Ministerial Council meeting was as good a place as any to discuss the need for change so more jobs can be created in the dairy sector.

“The northern Victorian dairy industry makes up over 85 per cent of dairy production in the southern basin system,” he said.

“The Commonwealth (Government) and Murray-Darling Basin Authority must adapt the plan to give the industry confidence to grow and create jobs.

“The northern Victorian dairy industry is worse off as a result of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, having lost close to one billion litres of milk production since the basin plan's inception.

“This needs to change, we need real adaption if the Commonwealth want to create jobs.”

Mr Mumford described the fact the plan hadn't changed since implementation as "crazy".

“The current legislation allows for adaptation to the plan that acknowledges new information,” he said.

“It’s crazy to think that we don’t know anything new from when the legislation was first passed in 2007.

“Let's acknowledge the socio-economic impacts the plan is having, let's look at the science that tells us the Lower Lakes cannot remain fresh, let's look at the information that tells us we just can't physically get all this water to the Murray River’s mouth without impacting others.

“It's time to be honest and make a change.”

VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson met with Federal Agriculture Minister Keith Pitt on June 16, via teleconference, expressing the same concerns as well as concerns about the MDBA's basin report card, which revealed more water could be recovered if SDL projects are not complete, and the need for the MDBA to be split into three parts.

Mr Anderson raised the same issues with Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville during a meeting on June 12.