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Govt’s desperate 3rd attempt to legalise floodplain harvesting by subterfuge: Greens & Shooters comment

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
26 February 2021

Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP & water spokesperson and Helen Dalton, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Member for Murray, have slammed the most recent attempt by the Government to legalise floodplain harvesting as ‘another sneaky and disgraceful move’ by the National Party Water Minister.

The new regulation allows for the take of groundwater and overland flows in the case of a ‘sudden natural event’ such as a flood or a ‘sudden ingress of water’, effectively legalising floodplain harvesting under the guise of emergency protections. 

Prior to flood events in the Northern Basin in February 2020, the Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment introduced an exemption for irrigators from an embargo on pumping or harvesting floodwaters on the basis that "the main intent of lifting this order to minimise flood impacts, and allow farmers to move water around their property to avoid damage to on-farm infrastructure."

Water Management (General) Amendment (Emergency Works Exemption) Regulation 2021 (nsw.gov.au)

“This is a bloody disgrace. Having failed twice, the Water Minister has now snuck through a regulation that allows unlicensed floodplain harvesting on the faulty premise that it’s needed to protect water infrastructure,” said Ms Faehrmann.

“This is a sneaky and desperate move by the Water Minister. None of this infrastructure has a permit to be there in the first place. 

“There is no evidence that any infrastructure was damaged during the February 2020 flood event, where the same argument was used to justify an exemption to the embargo for irrigators in the north. 

“The madness is the law now states ‘it’s illegal to floodplain harvest except in the event of a flood’. This is the insane doublespeak by which the National Party manages water in this state. 

“The Water Minister has already allowed her big irrigator mates up north to harvest most of the decent rains that have fallen in the past twelve months. Meanwhile, communities right along the lower Darling have barely seen a drop and are watching their river and wetlands die.

“After the ICAC found last year that decisions were being made in favour of a handful of corporate irrigators in the northern basin, the National Party Water Minister has done it again.

With rain forecast of 30 or 60 mls in the Barwon-Darling catchment next week, this regulation has deliberately been made to allow Minister Pavey’s big irrigator mates in the north to capture every drop. It’s criminal pure and simple,” said Ms Faehrmann.

Helen Dalton said Minister Pavey’s regulation showed a Donald Trump-like disrespect for democracy. 

“The Upper House voted down this regulation twice in 2020,” Mrs Dalton said. 

“So now, the NSW Government are just re-introducing it while Parliament isn’t sitting,” 

“It’s as sneaky as it is appalling.”

“The NSW Government have had ten years to regulate floodplain harvesting. They have failed to so. This underhanded regulation is not the answer.” said Mrs Dalton.

 

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
26 February 2021
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