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28, October 2010


A report released yesterday by Senator Kim Carr showed that Australia is now a net importer of food as the Murray Darling Basin Authority proposes savage water cuts to Australia’s premier food producing region.

“The MDBA should be assisting food producers in the basin instead of demonising them” said Max Rheese, executive director of the Australian Environment Foundation.

“Australia needs to support efficient food production while optimising efficient water delivery to the environment.

“The current proposal to direct massive water allocations to the artificial man-made environment in the Lower Lakes is a very inefficient use of a limited resource.  All this achieves is to maintain artificial man-made freshwater lakes at the expense of food production and the natural environment upstream.

The State of the Industry report prepared for the Australian Food and Grocery Council showed that in the last year Australia imported $1.8 billion more food than it exported. 

While the report acknowledged the strong Australian dollar had an effect on both imports and exports, AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell said “Proposed water allocation cuts for food production in the Murray-Darling Basin will also threaten the future viability of numerous food manufacturers in the Basin, negatively impacting exports, and making it harder for locally-produced goods to compete with imports.

Mr Rheese said “This report confirms that food security must be enhanced rather than undermined for the benefit of all Australians.  The focus on improving efficiencies should be on how we use existing environmental water and water gains from infrastructure upgrades.

“Water is being sucked out of the Basin by 5 million residents in cities located outside the Basin, such as Melbourne, Ballarat and Adelaide to the detriment of food production and the environment with the pain of water cuts being inflicted solely on Basin communities.

“Minister Burke should direct the MDBA to start afresh with the view to optimise outcomes for both the environment and basin communities, as this clearly is not the case with the current Basin Guide” said Mr Rheese.

- ENDS -

Media contact: Max Rheese 0428 621320

The Australian Environment Foundation is a not-for-profit, membership-based environment organisation having no political affiliation.   Many of our members are practical environmentalists and we accept that environmental protection and sustainable resource use are generally compatible. For more information about the AEF visit www.aefweb.info


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