Southern NSW irrigators receive $20m for lost water

18th January 2007Southern NSW irrigators receive $20m for lost water
Thursday, 18 January 2007

The NSW Government, just days after it was threatened by an irrigator class action, is today expected to announce a $20 million drought assistance package for southern irrigators who lost carryover or purchased water allocations last year.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, will fly to Wagga Wagga, Griffith and Deniliquin today to make the announcement to irrigators.

The package will provide payments of up to $50,000 for irrigators affected by the drought in sections of the Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys.

The government has also confirmed that carryover accounts will be re-credited as soon as there is sufficient rainfall.

In order to access the assistance, southern irrigators will have to demonstrate applied drought mitigation strategies through the carryover of unused water from 2005-06 irrigation season in the Murray Valley or have purchased water in Murray/Murrumbidgee Valleys in 2006-07.

Mr Macdonald has stressed the package is for drought assistance, and is not classed as compensation or structural adjustment.

It comes just days after irrigators met in Griffith to affirm calls for a class action against the government for the cuts.

The Government slashed up to 52pc of irrigators’ carryover allocation without warning late last year owing to record low inflows from the Snowy scheme.

Some summer crops have since been abandoned and permanent plantings are also at risk.

The cutbacks equate to a cost of $37 million in the Murray alone, based on their trading values, which at that time were $250 to $290/Ml.

The irrigators accused Mr Macdonald, of “stalling” in the hope locals would give up fighting for compensation.

SOURCE: Extract from frull report in The Land, NSW, January 18.

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