Victoria has failed to convince New South Wales and South Australia to restrict new licences to use water in the lower Murray region, putting at risk the integrity of the Barmah Choke and Lower Goulburn River.
Minister Neville went to the Ministerial Council Meeting in Canberra on Sunday with the support of the Victorian Liberal Nationals and a host of industry bodies, including the Victorian Farmers Federation and the Almond Board of Australia, to put a brake on extraction downstream of the Barmah Choke, but she came back empty handed.
Without a tri-state agreement, there is nothing to guarantee irrigators in the Sunraysia will be able to get the water they need to irrigate the region’s permanent plantings or to stop more water from leaving the GMID. Instead, development is likely to be pushed over the border into NSW and SA.
Shadow Minister for Water and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan said she was disappointed Minister Neville hadn’t even mentioned whether the issue was discussed last Sunday, or what the outcome was.
“Minister Neville’s failure to get agreement with New South Wales and South Australia means the integrity of the Barmah Choke and lower Goulburn is again at risk as we head into the new water year,” Ms Ryan said.
“Every new water use licence issued in the lower Murray is more water that needs to flow through the Barmah Choke or the lower Goulburn, more water leaving our irrigation districts and more water that is unavailable for our struggling dairy industry.
“Minister Neville has missed an opportunity to help our environment and irrigation communities and we don’t have the luxury of waiting another six months for the next ministerial meeting.
“Irrigators in the GMID and the lower Murray desperately need certainty now. Minister Neville needs to tell us what her plan is to get other states on board with this moratorium before it is too late.”