Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville said she would be ‘‘surprised’’ if an independent report into the socio-economic impacts of efficiency measures in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan did not show widespread impacts.
Ms Neville, who was in Mooroopna last week announcing $100million in winter works for the Connections Program, expected the Federal Government report to have a similar outcome to the findings of a Victorian Government report released earlier this year.
The Victorian Government has previously undertaken a report into the socio-economic impacts with Ms Neville expecting the report commissioned by the Federal Government to result in similar outcomes.
‘‘Given both our report and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District report were very similar, I’d be surprised not to see a broader socio-economic impact (seen as a result of efficiency measures),’’ she said.
‘‘I think it’s really critical that people remember this was a plan that was always about the three bottom lines — social outcomes, economic outcomes and environmental outcomes.
‘‘We need to make sure we’ve got the balance right and that report will be critical to making sure that’s the case.’’
With a coalition of 22 environmental, indigenous and community groups calling for the basin plan to be delivered in full, Ms Neville said she understood that people wanted to make sure their voice ‘‘doesn’t get lost’’, but ultimately there needed to be a balanced result for all.
She said Victoria would be exploring the prospect of including provisions to allow for water for Aboriginal communities at a Murray-Darling Basin meeting on Friday which she hoped would be welcomed by the indigenous community.
With a Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority report released earlier this month revealing more than 70 per cent of dairy farmers across the region believe they do not own enough water entitlements to meet their irrigation needs, Ms Neville said it was important that government worked to ensure water security.
‘‘The water market is an important tool for dairy farmers to use. The Connections Project will also be an important tool as we modernise to ensure they’ve got water security,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re not about to get rid of the market, because the market has worked as a really critical way to survive drought for a number of parts of the industry, but how do we support farmers through modernisation and water security?’’