12 July 2023

Murray-Darling Basin Plan Implementation Review 2023

The Australian Government Productivity Commission held public forums in the tri-state area last month to give members of the community a chance to voice their views on the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) Plan.

Citrus Australia Chief Executive Officer, Nathan Hancock, met with Productivity Commission Commissioner, Joanne Chong, alongside representatives from the dried fruits and wine industries to voice horticultural concerns prior to one of the forums in Mildura.

“Industry representatives spoke to the Commissioner about recent horticultural seasons and the outlook for industries in the lower-connected Murray Darling Basin,” said Nathan.

“We raised the issue of the Barmah Choke and a need for this to be urgently addressed to ensure water deliverability.”

With El Nino declared, representatives highlighted the potential impact of long periods of extreme heat on delivering water to irrigated horticulture regions.

“We asked to consider the impact of a drought on farming communities given so many additional water licenses have been approved, especially in NSW, governments in the basin states don’t appear to be working on shoring up deliverability to the expanded production base,” said Nathan.

Communication efforts about the Basin Plan by the MDB Authority and government was brought forward by representatives too.

“Whilst the issue of water availability and river health are important to growers on a daily basis, the Murray Darling Basin Plan is something growers simply live with rather than want to be kept up to date on,” said Nathan.

Furthermore, industry questioned the scope of the review, including how it does not include the water market or compliance and enforcement, nor does it mention irrigators as an affected party.

“Industry was also disappointed the review will exclude these recent reports which will mean the Commissioners will not investigate whether any recommendations have been followed through,” said Nathan.

The MDB Plan is reviewed every five years. Comments and submissions close Monday 31 July, 2023. Visit the Productivity Commission’s website to learn more or subscribe to its emailing list.

To provide feedback on Citrus Australia’s response to the review or on this article, please contact comms@citrusaustralia.com.au.

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