IAL national chair Stephen Mills says, however, “On-farm savings can potentially deliver much more water to the environment than the purchase of water rights.
“With more government support for investment in technologies that already exist, we can help put more water back into the environment and help restore the balance in our river systems.”
Water Minister Penny Wong on Tuesday announced the government would spend $3.1 billion purchasing water rights from irrigators as part of a $13 billion plan to secure the nation’s water.
The money is to be allocated over 10-years, hence the ACF’s response wanting to shorten this time frame, at least with the pace of water buyback.
Senator Wong on Tuesday said climate change means the government needs to act quickly to address the over-allocation of water in Australia’s food bowl.
She said the buybacks would see large volumes of water returned to the basin’s waterways.
“We cannot wait to start purchasing water from the river,” Senator Wong told reporters.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Simon Ramsay said the market would be affected by the government’s entry into water trading.
“A $3 billion water buyback will drive up demand and there is a risk that (water) prices will be driven up and that food production and the viability of rural communities will be impacted upon,” Mr Ramsay said.
Opposition water security spokesman John Cobb agrees.
He said yesterday the buyback would drive up food prices by cutting agricultural production. (See separate story).