The Andrews Labor Government will not support any changes to water sharing arrangements between the states that negatively impact Victoria.
Victoria has a conservative allocation policy that, despite dry conditions, has resulted in some allocations being made available to entitlement holders this season – and Victorian communities should not be penalised for that.
Victoria supports the establishment of the Office of the Inspector General and powers associated with it to ensure compliance in the Basin, proper metering and administration of rules.
However, Minister for Water Lisa Neville today said the Labor Government will not support the Inspector General having powers to change water sharing rules affecting Victoria that pre-date the Basin Plan.
The Government acknowledges parts of the Basin are facing severe drought but changing water sharing rules risks unfairly shifting water from Victorian irrigators to other states – and Victoria won’t support any such change.
Economic security, certainty and planning for farmers and communities should not be undermined by constant rule changes.
The priorities of the Inspector General should be focussed on floodplain harvesting, allocation, metering, monitoring of large-scale individual water use and licensing arrangements in the Northern Basin – where we have seen issues our communities have been concerned about in recent years.
If there are to be savings made by looking at transmission or other losses these should be looked at – but any additional water found in Victoria water needs to go back to our communities.
Victorian irrigators and communities have already done the heavy lifting to meet our obligations under the Plan – and there will be no further buy backs in Victoria.
Further water recovery towards the extra 450 gigalitres in the Plan will only be supported if there are positive socio-economic impacts – as agreed by all Basin States and the Commonwealth.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville
“I support ensuring the best use of all available water but I won’t stand by and let water sharing rules be changed to the detriment of Victorian communities.”
“While we agree the Basin Plan needs to be adaptive – these water sharing rules pre-date the Plan and are the basis for states making the best decisions possible for allocations to their farmers”
“I will be writing to Federal Minister David Littleproud and the Inspector General to make my expectations clear about the role and priorities of the position.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020