RGA unhappy with drought of record motion before NSW Parliament

Drought of record motion a 'huge blow' for MIA irrigators if passed

THE livelihoods of irrigators are at stake should the NSW Legislative Council pass a drought of record motion.

That is the sentiment from the Ricegrowers' Association of Australia, which is concerned the reliability of general security entitlements in the Murrumbidgee and NSW Murray valleys will be permanently reduced if the motion is implemented.

RGA president Rob Massina said the motion has been put up as a private members bill in the NSW Parliament.

"This was passed (last week), but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be instigated ... it still has to go through the Upper and Lower House," he said.

RGA president Rob Massina.

RGA president Rob Massina.

"From a local perspective, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party have supported the bill.

"Given our local member (Helen Dalton) is part of that party, hopefully she understands the impacts of what a bill could mean for irrigators in the southern basin.

"Since the Millennium Drought, the NSW government has put aside drought reserves above and beyond, so is there really a need to push that through?

"We would encourage (Helen Dalton) to talk to us about understanding the issues better for her constituents."

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The motion seeks to update modelling to take into account more recent droughts to protect town water supplies.

In the NSW Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys, this means factoring in the worst years of the Millennium Drought.

However, multiple drought reserve accounts were already established in the NSW Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys following this drought precisely to protect town water.

The RGA said NSW government management plans developed since do further mitigate the risk.

"So, all the motion does is reduce the volume of water available on paper to allocate for growing food and fibre, without making any difference to security of supply for towns," Mr Massina said.

He said the motion "will inevitably lead to less water for general security allocation because the model will assume another Millennium Drought is always around the corner".

The motion was proposed by Independent NSW MP, Justin Field, and supported by NSW Labor, One Nation, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, the Animal Justice Party and the Greens.

"These politicians have either chosen to ignore the risk to regional economies, or are otherwise seeking a political win, at the expense of our general security allocation and irrigators," Mr Massina said.

"Thankfully the NSW Minister for Water is not required to act on this motion per se, and the RGA has written to the minister to make it clear that our growers, industry and communities cannot support these proposed changes."

This story Drought of record motion a 'huge blow' for MIA irrigators if passed first appeared on The Area News.