VFF says now is time is fix basin plan after welcoming “clear information” in Keelty report

By Rodney Woods

The VFF has welcomed the findings of Mick Keelty's basin plan report, which confirmed that low inflows are the cause of irrigators’ water woes — not the Murray-Darling Basin agreement.

VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson said the report provided clear information about a complex issue.

“We are pleased to have some clear facts that farmers can understand.

“We need to make sure information is updated and continues to be made available to irrigators and farming communities,” he said.

“The report confirms that more than two-thirds of the decline in average inflows is attributable to changes in flows from the Murray upstream of Albury and Victorian tributaries.

“NSW tributaries have experienced the greatest reduction in inflows which is why General Security allocations are so low.”

Mr Anderson said the report provided a clear explanation about how water was shared across the Murray system, including information about inflows, deliveries and losses, as well as calling for a single point of truth where farmers could access information.

“The VFF welcomes the call for truth,” he said.

“We also need to see that the type of information in the report is made available in real time so farmers can understand what parcels of water are running down the Murray and its tributaries.”

Mr Anderson said the report also detailed information on conveyance losses, concluding that in 2018-19 losses accounted for 25 per cent of the water delivered, which was the same as 2006-07 and 2009-10 during the millennium drought.

“This information should already have been readily available to the community if the Murray-Darling Basin Authority was doing its job properly,” Mr Anderson said.

“Now that there is greater clarity about how water is shared between the states, it’s time to make the changes to the basin plan that the VFF has long been calling for, including scrapping the 450 Gl up-water, no more water recovery in the southern basin and addressing compliance issues in the northern basin.”