Water Journal : Current Feb 2016
www.awa.asn.au 22 Barnaby Joyce construct national water infrastructure, in partnership with state and territory governments and the private sector. $200 million will be dedicated to northern Australia projects. AWA: The ACCC recently released recommendations for overhauling Commonwealth water rules. Are you pleased with the direction of debate? Joyce: The ACCC has made some constructive recommendations on improvements that could be made to the water charges rules. They have undertaken extensive consultation across the Basin during the past year. This included regional forums and meetings with a wide range of people -- I attended the Tamworth consultation forum and was very impressed with the range and depth of discussion. The ACCC has now released for public comment a range of improvements that could be made to the rules. These include improving the transparency and information around the determination of water charges and how the charges relate to service provision. The ACCC has also provided suggestions for expanding protections against charging arrangements that unfairly advantage some water users, and they have identified how some water charge rules could be streamlined. There is plenty of scope identified in the ACCC's draft recommendations. AWA: In November, you said you want to change the culture at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. How does Phillip Glyde's appointment t into that? Joyce: Glyde brings a record of achievement particularly relevant to the Murray--Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), through his extensive experience as a senior public servant in natural resource management and economics and involvement in complex state and Commonwealth issues. I welcome the direction his leadership will provide to the MDBA at a very important time in the delivery of the Basin Plan. AWA: Some quarters have raised concerns of con ict of interest in having agriculture and water under the oversight of one person. How do you balance competing demands? Joyce: Our government is investing over $2.5 million per day to 2019 in the future sustainability of irrigated agriculture. This is our commitment to our environment and communities in the Basin. With the increased efficiency, water savings are able to be recovered for the environment to deliver water to wetlands and environmental assets throughout the Basin. I have long understood that productive use of natural resources for economic growth and development can coexist with positive social and environmental outcomes. Family farmers represent some of Australia's best examples of outstanding environmental stewardship. They have the greatest incentive of all to manage their land and water resources sustainably -- the opportunity to pass that land on to the next generation in an even better condition. We have a good history of working together in the Basin to deliver environmental water reforms; the Living Murray program is a substantial group of projects that are evidence of a shared commitment to delivering environmental outcomes. We will continue to work with all parties to ensure that the triple bottom line continues to be addressed across all three aspects -- social, economic and environmental. AWA: The Department of Agriculture has been con rmed as a sponsor for the Association's Water Innovation Forum and Expo in March. How important is water innovation in agriculture to you? Joyce: Through the Basin plan, we're investing in more efficient, state-of-the-art irrigation technologies that are helping to transform irrigation farms into more productive and more profitable enterprises. The Australian Government recognises the need for modern and innovative water infrastructure to give our producers water security and certainty -- that's why the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper set aside $500 million to set up a National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. AWA: What sort of opportunities do you see in water? Joyce: The biggest opportunity in the future of the water sector is to provide greater certainty to the communities who rely on water for irrigation. For example, in Western Australia there is a vast untapped water resource that warrants serious consideration by the dams ministerial task group, and further development of agriculture in Northern Australia will demand more reliable access to water throughout the year. AWA: Some scientists are calling for a national approach to water banking. Is this on your policy radar? Joyce: I recently called for expressions of interest under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and managed aquifer recharge will be eligible, so it's well and truly on our radar. The proposal for a continent- wide groundwater replenishment scheme is significant and will require a correspondingly significant investment in research, development and planning. A national water bank has significant merits, however, and I support the concept of what is proposed. IF NO NEW DAMS ARE BUILT, AUSTRALIA'S WATER STORAGE CAPACITY WILL FALL TO 2.6ML PER PERSON BY 2050. PRODUCTIVE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT CAN COEXIST WITH POSITIVE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL OUTCOMES.
Water Journal November 2015
Current May 2016