Farmers’ Federation call ‘misinformation’ on Basin Bill

Farming groups gathered in Canberra yesterday to protest the recent changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan, with the National Farmers’ Federation branding the changes a “rewrite”.

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) chief executive Tony Mahar said parliament discussions surrounding the Plan were misleading.

“This bill is not completing the Plan, it’s rewriting the plan,” said Mahar.

“It’s true, farmers led by the NFF have supported the Plan since 2012. It was a painful compromise that we agreed to cop to restore the health of the river.

“This bill seeks to tear up that compromise. It removes the safeguards put there to protect communities.

“It’s upping the price after communities have already paid the bill.”

Mahar refuted claims that the changes to the Plan would benefit Basin communities.

“If this is for farmers and Basin communities, then why are they protesting outside the Minister’s electorate office today?” he asked.

“Let me be clear on behalf of our members: this is not for us. This is not for the health of the river. It’s certainly not for the good of Basin communities.

“The reality for Basin communities is that they’ll see their local economies shrink by $855 million each and every year and shed 1,500 jobs.”

Mahar also expressed concern that the government was misleading South Australians on the impact of the Plan.

“Trying to sell South Australians the lie that this is about their drinking water is the lowest form of politics. This is water for the environment. If South Australians want to take a bath in it, they’ll have to do that in the river,” Mahar said.

“We want an outcome that restores bipartisanship, that brings all states back around the table, and that brings communities along. Telling porkies to sell a dud bill is a dreadful start.”

“You can’t measure the health of the river in gigalitres delivered and marginal seats won. We should be having an informed discussion about genuine environmental outcomes.”

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