Crunch time looms for communities in the Murray Darling Northern Basin

Friday, 2nd February 2018 // // Comments (0)

The fate of rural communities across northern NSW and southern Queensland will be decided in the next two weeks when Federal Parliament resumes and must decide on the next stage of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

Cotton Australia General Manager Michael Murray says Parliament must vote on a Disallowance Motion moved by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

“If successful, the Disallowance Motion will wind back the achievements of the Murray Darling Basin Plan to date, and threaten the viability of communities and the livelihoods of hard-working farmers across the Northern Basin,” Mr Murray says.

“The Disallowance Motion means the Northern Basin Recovery water recovery target would be increased by 70 gigalitres (Gl), which would prompt further additional losses in rural economies - communities that are already struggling with extremely limited access to water.”

“The Murray Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) own modelling demonstrates employment losses in communities across the Northern Basin will increase due to water recovery and buybacks.”

“If the Disallowance Motion proceeds, there will be 180 less jobs across the Northern Basin according to the MDBA, which is an extraordinarily cruel blow for these small communities.” (see table below)

“Increasing the recovery target will, perversely, result in one less environmental target being met. Furthermore, there will be no incentive for the Commonwealth, NSW and Queensland Governments to invest in the promised ‘toolkit’ of complementary measures which would have leveraged even further environmental gains out of the environmental water already acquired by the Commonwealth.”

Mr Murray says Cotton Australia and other farmer representative groups – including the NFF, QFF, National Irrigators’ Council and NSW Irrigators’ Council - had banded together to rally people in the affected communities to take action.

“We call on people in the Northern Basin to have their voice heard by contacting their local senators by email, letter or phoning their electorate office to let them know that enough is enough – towns will wither even further if this Disallowance Motion goes through,” Mr Murray says.

“People should let their representatives in Canberra know that it’s not good enough to ramp up environmental water targets when the proof shows it kills communities.”

Cotton Australia’s website – - has a list of Senators and their contact details so that constituents of the Northern Basin can directly contact their representatives to make their views heard.

“Only if people make their voice heard will those in Canberra understand the severity of the decision that Parliament is about to make,” Mr Murray says.

“We urge everyone to have their say on this very important issue by reaching out to our Senators to let them know how people in these communities feel.”


Cotton Australia is the peak representative body for Australia’s cotton growing industry.


Cotton Australia media contacts:

Michael Murray
General Manager, Cotton Australia
0427 707 868


Chris Larsen
Communications Manager, Cotton Australia
0488 189 502


Forecast job losses due to water recovery & buybacks:


Download this media release.