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Floodplain Harvesting Law struck down by NSW Upper House for the 3rd time

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
24 February 2022

The NSW Upper House has just disallowed a floodplain harvesting regulation for the third time because the government is yet to deal with the significant concerns raised in the recent Parliamentary Inquiry about the impacts of floodplain harvesting in the northern basin, says Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP and water spokesperson and chair of the recent Select Committee into Floodplain Harvesting.

The Government’s Water Management (General) Amendment Regulation 2021 was disallowed by the Legislative Council this morning by a vote of 18 to 15.. The regulations would have allowed the Government to issue floodplain harvesting licences and entitlements with a value of potentially more than $1 billion. 

The Select Committee into Floodplain Harvesting made 25 recommendations including that the Government bring floodplain harvesting within the existing Basin Plan limit of 64 gigalitres. 

“It should now be clear to the Government that they do not have a social licence to gift $1 billion worth of water licences to their corporate irrigator mates,” said Ms Faehrmann.

“Floodplain harvesting needs to be licensed, but not to the extent that it’s been occurring over the past couple of decades, with massive amounts of over-extraction in the northern basin having disastrous consequences for downstream communities.

“The Government must bring floodplain harvesting to within the legal limits in the Murray-Darling basin plan. This is 64GL not the 346GL that the Government has stated it publicly intends to. We will never support the expansion of floodplain harvesting beyond the legal limit of 64GL because it is ultimately unsustainable for the river system itself. 

“If the Government goes ahead and issues floodplain harvesting licences it will leave a future government exposed to potentially billions of dollars in compensation when it inevitably needs to bring floodplain harvesting down to sustainable levels.

“The floodplain harvesting committee handed down recommendations that would see floodplain harvesting regulated in a way that is equitable and environmentally sustainable. It’s time for the Government to seriously consider them. 

“I call on the Minister to sit down and work with all parties on solutions that work for all communities, including First Nations peoples and the environment,” said Ms Faehrmann. 

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
24 February 2022
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