THE Commonwealth and the States risk a big compensation bill for farms, tourism and infrastructure if they pursue a 3200GL water recovery target, the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) warned today.
ADIC president Chris Griffin said the 3200GL scenario involved more frequently flooding thousands of hectares of farmland, as well as caravan parks, access roads, prime tourism attractions such as the Tocumwal beaches, and South Australia’s holiday ‘shacks’ on the Murray River.
“The impacts are clearly identified in reports by the SA Government, and the Goulburn Broken and NSW Murray Catchment Management Authorities,” said Mr Griffin.
“The inescapable fact is that the Commonwealth and the States will face a hefty bill to buy flood easements on affected properties, and compensate caravan park owners and businesses in tourist towns like Tocumwal.
“And that is even before they get the repair bill for fixing access roads and low-lying bridges after each flood has passed through.”
ADIC Basin Response Taskforce Chair Daryl Hoey said there were smarter ways to achieve healthier rivers and wetlands than just stripping ever larger volumes of water out of irrigation communities.
“We know there is widespread political support for a 2100GL cap on water buybacks and infrastructure savings, plus at least 650GL in offsets such as environmental works and improved river operations.
“This formula will deliver similar or better environmental outcomes – including protecting the lower lakes, Coorong and Murray mouth – than just taking 2750GL or 3200GL of water away from irrigators.
“The MDBA should be forced to get serious about finding at least 650GL in offsets first, so we can close the gap to 2750GL without the need for even more buybacks,” Mr Hoey said.
“The priority should be on delivering this win-win outcome first, and we appeal to Mr Burke to direct the Authority to become part of the solution, not the problem.”