Tensions High at MDBA Meetings

Irrigation-Paddock-Gundi-550x327The mood was predictable according to locals as scores of irrigators turned up to meetings in Goondiwindi, St George, Dirranbandi and Toowoomba over the past week to hear from the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) about proposed amendments to the Basin Plan.

So far 65GL has been removed from the Condamine-Balonne, meaning another 35GL would still be needed to be taken from the St George and Dirranbandi districts if the MDBA planned reductions and new water recovery targets for the Northern Basin (390GL to 320GL) are to be achieved.

In the Border Rivers district, another 14GL would need to be recovered under the proposed 320GL water target.

Tensions were high at the Dirranbandi meeting where local farmers and business owners stepped up and outlined the savage impacts MDBA targets have already had on the local community.

Balonne Shire deputy mayor, Fiona Gaske says the mood is not a surprise.

“I really felt their frustration and I understood it because yet the authority is unable to identify how that 35GL will be r

“There is so much uncertainty as to what it means for them, particularly in relation to targeted buybacks. We just don’t know what’s ahead of us.”

Balonne Mayor, Richard Marsh, made his positon clear at the St George meeting saying the shire could not afford any forced water buybacks.

“320GL will push us over the top.”

Member for Warrego, Ann Leahy told the St George meeting, that the MDBA had failed to address key issues around compliance and could not guarantee any recovered water would go to the environment.

Ms Leahy says the purpose of the MDBA is to ensure we don’t have those cliff faces at borders.

“And they have failed dismally. How will the Queensland irrigators ever meet their environmental outcomes when their environmental water isn’t getting to the environment?”

phillip-glydeMDBA Chief Executive Phillip Glyde and chairman Neil Andrew acknowledged compliance is an issue.

Mr Glyde says an important part of the amendment to the Northern Basin water recovery target are the recommended toolkit measures, which touch on compliance.

A consultation period on the proposed change will now run until February 10 after which the MDBA will make a final recommendation to the federal minister for agriculture and water resources, Barnaby Joyce.

Once the Minister decides, the amendments will be tabled in federal parliament.