Select Committee on Floodplain Harvesting
HRD is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Select Committee on Floodplain Harvesting (the inquiry). We wish to express our gratitude to all Representatives who were involved in the two disallowance motions of the Floodplain Harvesting (FPH) Policy regulations in the Upper House, and the establishment of this inquiry.
HRD considers that FPH is an unlawful practice, and that Governments, Authorities and Agencies have turned a blind eye to the practice.
There are no legal levers between FPH policy and the water sharing priorities under the WMA (ss. 5(3) and 9(1)), which include water for ecosystem health and basic landholder rights (stock and domestic; native title rights).
The NSW Water Minister received internal legal advice that stated that on the balance of probabilities, taking water without an access licence is most likely unlawful. Building on-farm storages to house that illegally obtained water without the appropriate approvals would also be unlawful. This advice was withheld from the public until the Minister was urged in Parliament to release it.
The irrigation industry has grown large and politically powerful in recent decades and in HRD’s view has too much influence on water policy at every level. The extent of this wealth and power has come from the illegal take of water.
In many parts of the world through history and to the present day the textile industry has used slavery to grow large and powerful. Only the erosion of social licence through community advocacy can bring about justice for the Environment, First Nations Peoples and the wider community.
HRD will argue in section 1 that:
- Volumes of FPH to be licenced must be brought under the Cap, and that the Cap should not stretch to accommodate FPH volumes. In the Macquarie Valley that means zero FPH.
- The NSW Government is accommodating the irrigation industries arbitrary claim that environmental water in the Macquarie is ‘over recovered’. A claim HRD rejects outright and presents evidence to show that ‘over recovery’ is not a thing.
- The draft Floodplain Management Plan 2018 must include clear process to ensure all illegal floodplain works are removed. The Floodplain Management Plan 2018 for the Macquarie is still not gazetted, which must happen ASAP.
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