5 December 2018 Independent report to the Basin Ministerial Council (minco) on community consultation conducted in October and November on additional socioeconomic impact criteria to apply to programs and projects to recover up to 450GL on top of the Basin Plan’s 2750GL target. Report released by the minco on 14 December. ‘[Program] participants are not going to give up an appreciating asset, water, for a depreciating asset, infrastructure. The 1.75 multiplier won’t entice them. They’re concerned that environmental water hasn’t been used wisely and they want to look after their local communities for the sake of their livelihoods and children’s futures.
October 2018 The Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council agreed on 8 June 2018 to develop additional socioeconomic ‘neutrality’ criteria by the end of 2018, to apply to programs and proposals to recover another 450 GLs. The need for effective community and stakeholder communication and consultation was acknowledged. Given the lack of engagement since, GMID Water Leadership initiated a workshop in Shepparton on 17 September 2018, to decide what socioeconomic neutrality looks like. It was attended by water policy experts, regional stakeholders, irrigators and members of the local agricultural supply chain. We agreed the program must not be implemented if it does not pass this independent assessment.
RMCG: Update on GMID water availability scenarios and Irrigated Production across the Southern connected Basin June 2018
New RMCG report finds sourcing another 450GL from southern Basin irrigators will drive another 15%, or 235 ML, drop in GMID milk production. That's nearly $100 million of dairy farm gate production or $200 million of dairy factory production within the region. It would be on top of the 25%, or 500ML, fall over the last decade, most of which the Murray Darling Basin Authority attributes to water recovery for the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Water prices would rise a further $30 per ML on average and another 500jobs would be lost in the region, on top of the 1000 already gone.
GMID Water Leadership commissioned RMCG to prepare this socioeconomic impact assessment in 2016, responding to concerns about dry conditions, low water allocations, rising water prices, then Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s socio-economic effects, and the GMID’s long-term viability. The report found water recovery to date is costing the GMID $550 million in lost production, and 1000 jobs have disappeared. It predicted the next drought will be devastating if more water is recovered from irrigators in southern Basin, not only forcing a partial shut-down of the GMID but reducing orchards in Sunraysia and the South Australian Riverland by at least 15 per cent for lack of water no much how much owners are prepared to pay.
The Victorian Government commissioned this report in 2017 to inform discussions with the Commonwealth Government and help ensure that all future water recovery is done with neutral or positive social and economic effects. It found that Victoria's high reliability water was disproportionately targeted in the buybacks in 2008 - 2012, and that GMID water deliveries had fallen 41% (2000 gigalitres down to 1200 gigalitres). It found horticultural demand for water had risen from 32% of high reliability water share allocations to 40%, and could be 56% under a 3200-gigalitre Basin Plan. Farmers who sold water to the Commonwealth had increased their reliance on the temporary water market from 0-12% up to 52%, and reduced water availability could affect tariffs and infrastructure needs. Milk production in the GMID would be 30% higher without the Basin Plan.
Submission to the Productivity Commission: Murray-Darling Basin Plan Five-year Assessment. 'An inquiry into the effectiveness of the implementation of the Basin Plan and water resource plans'.
Poor implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has made the socio-economic adjustment challenge in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) in northern Victoria much more difficult than it needed to be, and deepened the hardship being experienced across this community. The Productivity Commission’s assessment should give equal consideration to all Basin Plan outcomes and objectives, that is, its social and economic objectives as well as environmental as set out in Clause 5.02 of the Plan. The assessment should also focus on outcomes, not inputs (i.e. environmental outcomes, not fixed volumes of water recovery), and whether the Plan is being implemented as designed as an adaptive management plan. Click the button to read GMID Water Leadership's executive summary and submission.