By Stuart Rintoul
WATER and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has told Victorian farmers there is "no escaping the scale of adjustment" that needs to be made in the Murray-Darling Basin food bowl.
Senator Wong said at a Victorian Farmers Federation meeting in Melbourne that unprecedented action was needed to restore the river system's health and that the federal government's accelerated water purchase program was "smoothing the transition" to new, lower limits on water use in the basin.
She said it would be "simply irresponsible" to ignore the possibility that climate change had already caused a "step-change" and regardless of whether or when the drought broke, farmers would be prudent to prepare for lower diversion limits.
"The challenge for irrigation operators is to modernise, rationalise and consolidate irrigation delivery systems to reduce system losses and ensure their ongoing financial viability in a future where there will be less water," she said.
Senator Wong's comments yesterday came as the Murray-Darling Basin Authority issued the key elements of the Basin Plan, which authority chairman Mike Taylor described as planning "at a scale and complexity that has never been undertaken anywhere else in the world". …