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Reform proposal to revive the Murray-Darling and inject hope into rural communities

A new paper examines how the Federal Government can integrate its water buyback program with its structural adjustment program to provide benefits for industry, rural communities and the environment.

Last week the Federal water minister, Senator Penny Wong, released guidelines for groups of irrigators that wish to sell their combined water entitlements.

The Australian Conservation Foundation paper released today goes further, proposing an integrated, geographically based approach to spending the $3.1 billion set aside for water purchase and the $5.8 billion for infrastructure and structural adjustment.

“Across the Murray-Darling Basin whole communities are examining their future prospects in the context of the ongoing drought, climate change and the risks and opportunities arising from various government reforms and funding packages,” said ACF healthy rivers campaigner Dr Arlene Buchan.

“This paper sets out a way for whole communities to be actively involved in setting directions for future land and water use.

”Many irrigators are concerned about the ‘swiss cheese’ effect that ad hoc water purchases could have on communities and the danger that investment in world class infrastructure might generate world class stranded assets in the future, if climate change is not taken into account.

“I urge the Federal Government to consider this geographically targeted approach to water and land reform to inject hope into communities across the Murray-Darling Basin and help revive Australia’s greatest river system.”