VFF says it’s time to play the water issues, not the people

By Country News

By Andrew Leahy, VFF Water Council deputy chairman

and Paul Mundy, VFF Water Council committee member

It seems other water groups want to attack the Victorian Farmers Federation with a number of miss-truths and we felt it important to set the record straight.

We sat through the inspector-general’s meeting last month and then stayed on for the Southern Riverina Irrigators group call to arms for a new water advocacy body for Victoria.

Southern Riverina Irrigators has taken aim at the VFF because we would not support an expansion of powers to the inspector-general in December last year.

Currently the water sharing arrangements between the states can only occur if the basin states agree.

If states did concede water sharing powers to the inspector-general, we risk the day when a ‘green’ inspector general is appointed and they have the power to establish a very green water sharing arrangement with the strike of a pen and without agreement from the states, risking the security of highly reliable Victorian entitlements.

Miss-truths have been broadcast saying the VFF supports the 450 Gl of upwater. This simply is incorrect.

The VFF has consistently argued to scrap the 450 Gl of upwater because of unacceptable impacts on our irrigators and communities.

There are real dangers when farmers are seen to be fighting among themselves, we open ourselves to be divided and conquered.

Only last week the Northern Victorian Irrigators Group led a meeting calling for a new water group based on calls by Southern Riverina Irrigators.

It is important to remember that Victoria and NSW have vastly different water products and allocation frameworks and there will be times when our advocacy positions will not align.

The VFF remains the peak farmer industry body of Victoria representing all agricultural industries on water.

We continue to fight for a fair outcome on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan for all Victorian farmers and their rural communities.

We are focused on the policy issues and getting real outcomes.