The Victorian Nationals have taken a strong stand on behalf of local irrigators at the Nationals’ Federal Council in Canberra, fighting to protect them from further water loss.
The council also passed a motion put forward by Victorian Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan calling for 300GL of environment water to be traded on to the market to assist drought-affected farmers in Victoria and NSW.
Ms Ryan said Victorian irrigators were at breaking point.
“A healthy Basin is one that balances economic, social and environmental objectives — but right now our irrigators aren’t seeing or experiencing that balance,” Ms Ryan said.
“Temporary water has risen to prices not seen since the height of the millennium drought, reaching $800/ML last week and expected to head further towards $1000/ML soon."
Victoria also successfully passed a motion calling on the council to strongly oppose recovery of the 450GL of ‘upwater’ under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“It is impossible to see how recovering an extra 450GL of water can be achieved without causing further harm to our irrigation communities,” Ms Ryan said.
“We know Victorian irrigators are under increased pressure from high water costs and more reliance on allocation trade as a result of water buybacks.
“This is a strong message from the Nationals’ Federal Council that the 450GL of water cannot, and should not, be recovered under the plan.”
The council also passed motions calling for a review of the science underpinning South Australia’s claims that the Lower Lakes were historically fresh.
"We want the Federal Government to act urgently to put environment water back into the temporary market. The livelihoods of families in the southern Basin depend on it," Ms Ryan said.