THE Murray River Group of Councils has expressed disappointment at the intervention by a group of scientists into the politics of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan with the Murray Darling Basin Declaration.
The basin plan is not half way through implementation and won’t be fully implemented until 2024.
Since it hasn’t been fully implemented it is hardly surprising that the expected environmental outcomes have not been achieved yet, according to the group of councils.
‘‘The MDBA itself consistently states that it is too early in the process to see wholesale environmental benefits but that early indications are positive,’’ MRGC chair councillor Cheryl McKinnon.
‘‘What has been achieved is the recovery of some 2100GL of water from irrigation including around 700GL of entitlements transferred to the Commonwealth from infrastructure investment.
‘‘What we have seen in our communities is the impact of this water recovery, especially the devastating effect of buy-backs, on the communities of the basin.
Cr Cheryl McKinnon said the assertions in this ‘‘so-called declaration’’ are simply wrong and shows Professor Grafton and his group don’t understand the impact on the communities of the basin.
“The assertion that investment in irrigation infrastructure is only providing benefits to irrigators is untrue and is offensive to the people who live in the basin who have put in huge effort to provide water for the environment,’’ she said.
“Investment in infrastructure has been the only way of recovering water without decimating the industries of our region and the tens of thousands of people who depend on them for their livelihood.
“Recovering more water from northern Victoria would mean that with the next extended dry period, the viability of entire industries and irrigation districts would be at risk and may not recover.
“The recommendations of the so called declaration are invalid and represent an irresponsible intervention into the politics of the basin plan.
“It is strange that on one hand Professor Grafton and his group are worried about a waste of tax payers money and on the other want to spend more on an audit and on a group of scientists to apparently replicate the work of the Basin Authority.
“The communities of northern Victoria and I believe of the whole basin reject this type of irresponsible and political intervention and strongly urge Ministers to reject it too.’’
The Murray River Group of Councils comprises six councils in northern Victoria, Mildura and Swan Hill Rural City Councils and Loddon, Gannawarra, Campaspe and Moira Shires.