The success of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan will be in its ability to balance people, planet and profit. Find out more about the Basin Plan, its impact on the Macquarie Valley, and how you can have your sayon the Northern Basin Review.
What is the Murray Darling Basin Plan?
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan (the Basin Plan) is legislation which guides how water is used along Australia’s largest river system, the Murray-Darling.
The Basin Plan was signed into law in 2012 by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard after reaching agreement with each of the Basin States (QLD, NSW, VIC, SA and ACT).
The aim of the Basin Plan is to share water between all users of the Murray-Darling in a sustainable way. More specifically, it meant removing 2,750 gigalitres of water from food & fibre production, and returning it to the river system.
So far, more than 2,000 gigalitres has been recovered. And rural and regional communities, like the Macquarie Valley, have been pushed to the brink, saying enough is enough. The water recovery must stop, and other ways to protect the environment must be prioritised and invested in.
What was the Macquarie’s role under the Basin Plan?
So far, the Macquarie Valley has had 83 gigalitres taken from production, above and beyond the legislated target of 65 gigalitres, and dramatically higher than the 20 gigalitres originally proposed in 2010.
That's 63 gigalitres of Macquarie Water taken from the community without justification. And the community has paid the price, with the removal of water curbing food and fibre production and costing local jobs.
Moving forward, we believe that over-recovered water should be returned to the Macquarie, and that other non-flow options be invested in, so as to ensure environmental targets are balanced with the socio-economic wellbeing of the community.
How has the Basin Plan impacted the Macquarie Valley?
The Basin is home to two million people and one-third of Australia’s agricultural production, which means balancing environmental targets with community needs is critical.
Unfortunately, the Basin Plan has failed to strike this balance in the Macquarie. Instead, over 30% of General Security entitlement has been removed from agricultural production resulting in slowed business growth and job losses of up to 12 per cent in some towns across the region.
The (largely non-strategic) removal of water from production has been compounded by other issues including prolonged drought and technology replacing farm labour, which has led to unprecedented impacts across the community: from reduced farm staff, the closing of local shops and businesses, to declining school numbers. What we’re doing about it: #TheMacquarieMatters
Put simply, the amount of water taken from production has tipped the scales away from caring for our communities in the Macquarie Valley.
So, we’ve launched a new local campaign called #TheMacquarieMatters to realign the Basin Plan debate; and ensure a balanced, more reasonable approach to water recovery in the Macquarie Valley.
The campaign is two-fold. Firstly, to raise greater awareness of the flawed Basin Plan and its inability to balance environmental targets with social and economic outcomes. Secondly, to ensure the Macquarie’s voice is heard where it matters most. This means unifying the local community to say ‘enough is enough’ – the Basin Plan cannot continue in its current form.
Moving forward, we see a solution that can work for the communities and the river system. Our message to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and Government is clear – over-recovered water must be returned to the Macquarie.
Secondly the state and federal governments must commit to win/win solutions that will benefit the environment and communities. Such measures would include regularly trading environmental water back into production, particularly when environmental requirements are already met and investing in complementary measures, such as feral animal control and mitigating cold water pollution, to maximise the environmental outcomes, from water already recovered.
Returning over-recovered water and implementing win/win solutions will help to increase the reliability of water supply in the Macquarie while also generating funds for complementary measures through water trading.
How can I get involved?
There’s a range of ways to get involved in the campaign, and to stand up for a better, brighter future for the Macquarie Valley.
Anyone can join the campaign by simply liking or following the Macquarie River Food & Fibre’s Facebookand Twitter page. Here, we’ll be shining a spotlight on the Macquarie and the people who bring this community to life.
We encourage everyone to share these stories, and explain why #TheMacquarieMatters to you. It’s also a great way to keep up to date with the latest news and information about the Basin Plan.
Another great way to get involved is by lodging a submissionto the Murray-Darling Basin Authority relating to the Northern Basin Review. It’s quick and easy to do, and you can even add why #TheMacquarieMatters to you!