NSW Farmers Association wants more consultation on water plans

By Rodney Woods

NSW Farmers Association is calling for more extensive community consultation on the Water Sharing Plans and Water Resource Plans for eight surface water areas across the state.

NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey unexpectedly announced on March 3 that she would take these WRPs back to the Stakeholder Advisory Panels for comment prior to submitting to the Commonwealth for accreditation.

This follows the promise by the minister in December 2019 that consultation would not be rushed.

“Although there is significant time pressure for the completion of the WRPs, it is essential that the WRPs are the product of constructive community input,” NSW Farmers water task force chair Xavier Martin said.

“NSW is the most complex watershed in the Murray-Darling Basin system and getting the WRPs right is more important than meeting arbitrary deadlines.

“NSW Farmers is concerned that the WRPs and WSPs are only going back for consultation with the SAPs and not the broader community.

“Our members are calling for a comprehensive and representative consultation process.

“We are also concerned that the process is occurring when there are a number of inquiries currently under way with recommendations due to be released in the coming months.”

Mr Martin said this included findings from the ACCC inquiry into water markets, the interim-inspector general’s inquiry into Murray-Darling water resources, the inquiry into the social and economic conditions in the basin and the CSIRO Lower Lakes independent science review.

“The findings from these inquiries must be taken into consideration when finalising the WRPs and WSPs,” he said.