Australia's cotton industry has welcomed the passage of changes to the Water Act through Federal Parliament, which will grant an additional year to find water-saving projects to implement the Murray Darling
Basin Plan (MDBP).
The legislation changes the operation of the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) Adjustment Mechanism with the intention of eliminating water purchases in the Southern Basin.
“We appreciate the efforts of Deputy PM and Minister for Agriculture & Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, in pushing the changes forward, and also acknowledge the bipartisan support that resulted in the changes passing through Parliament,” says Cotton Australia General Manager Michael Murray.
"These changes will allow an additional 12 months to scope out water-saving projects. The focus will now be on the States to do the detailed planning required to make these projects a reality in order to deliver the full 650 gigalitres of SDL adjustments.”
"Delivery of these projects would mean the Murray Darling
Basin Plan could be implemented without resorting to additional water entitlement buybacks, which we have strongly argued against in the past. In fact, we think SDL offset projects should result in the elimination of water recovery completely in the Southern Basin."
Murray says while the changes to the Water Act were welcomed and would be welcomed by Southern Basin communities, Australians needed to be reminded of the importance of the Northern Basin review currently underway.
"The Murray Darling
Basin Authority will release its report on the future of the Northern Basin imminently, and this report will make important recommendations about the level of sustainable diversion limits for that part of the Basin," he says.
"Our argument has always been that the 'simply add water' approach does not lead to the environmental gains required, and it is time for that deeply flawed approach to be abandoned."
"Instead, Cotton Australia calls on the MDBA to balance social, economic and environmental outcomes by complementing the water already acquired under the plan with a range of other activities."
"Enough is enough - it is time to replace water buybacks with complementary measures, and achieve a win for farmers, communities
and the environment."
Cotton Australia is the peak representative body for Australia’s cotton growing industry.