NFF concerned by wording of Murray Darling Basin Plan bill

THE wording of a bill to increase the environmental water flows under the Murray Darling Basin Plan needs to be changed to ensure 100% of some irrigators' water entitlements are not bought up.

That was the message the National Farmers Federation gave a committee investigating the bill during a hearing in Sydney on Tuesday.

The Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012 would move to up environmental flows from 2,750 GL to 3200GL.

NFF natural resource management unit manager Debra Kerr told the committee the NFF was concerned the wording of the bill could mean some irrigators, who had already sold back 50% of their water entitlements, could be up for the remaining half.

In a submission to the inquiry, NFF chief executive Matt Linnegar wrote any such water recovery "cannot and should not come from increasing water acquisition".

"This can only be to the detriment to the social and economic outcomes in the Basin," he wrote.

"This consideration has been a strong focus in negotiations in which the NFF has been involved."

Ms Kerr also highlighted the broad support for on-farm infrastructure and moves to look for water efficiency; but warned the plan was still likely to have significant physical and economic impacts on Basin communities.

The NFF also proposed some other parts of the bill could lead to other unintended consequences, including for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, and third parties.

The Regional Australia Committee was likely to report back to parliament next week on the bill and any changes it believes need to be made.



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