Sunday 22 June 2008
The Honourable Morris Iemma, MP
Minister for Citizenship
Level 40, Governor Macquarie Tower
1 Farrer Place
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Attention: Steve Cameron
Subject: Formal Request for a Socio-Economic Study into Negative Impacts on Regional NSW Prior to the Signing of the COAG IGA on Murray-Darling Basin Reform
Following discussions held at a State and Commonwealth level in the last two weeks we are formally requesting that the NSW Government carry out a social and economic impacts study into the negative impacts of the COAG Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on Murray-Darling Basin reform (the IGA) on regional NSW economies. We feel there are aspects of the IGA that diminish the rights we currently hold as citizens of NSW, with subsequent negative economic impacts on our regional economies.
Our meetings in recent times confirm a lack of detail in the discussion that is informing the IGA. In specific instances we have discovered a lack of willingness or actual understanding of the rights we currently hold by agency staff who have carriage of this matter.
We refer to the NSW State Plan, described as a plan to engage the whole community, and ask that confirmation be given by the NSW Government that the IGA will not contravene the State Plan’s goals which include, but are not limited to, Growing Prosperity Across NSW, including Priority P3: Cutting Red Tape and Priority P6: Increased Business Investment in Rural and Regional NSW.
We ask that the IGA be checked for conformity with NSW Regional Development Policies.
We request the NSW State Government carry out a full assessment of the negative economic impacts of the IGA on rural communities... This study should be carried out by economic modellers competent in measuring and commenting on the impacts of large scale economic reform, NATSEM would be an example of such expertise. We ask for a guarantee after a study is conducted, that the IGA will not lead to negative impacts to regional NSW economies.
We reject simplistic assertions that an unexplained new sustainability formula must be good for economic outcomes; and therefore that other study of impacts could be neglected.
We note the NSW Premier has requested IPART to carry out a socio economic study into any proposed changes that arise out of IPART’s report into the setting of local government rates and charges in NSW, surely a ceding of state powers deserves a thorough study and not the current situation of none at all.
Requirement for social and economic study within the IGA
We request that the NSW Government insist that the IGA include a requirement that competent and independent economic and social modelling be carried out on the impacts to Regional NSW economies of the proposed new sustainable diversion cap based on climate change speculation.
This modelling should be based on the known economic value of water and the impacts of the reductions demanded by speculative climate change outcomes informing the Basin Plan, as agreed in the MOU.
(Speculative climate change modelling is useful for scenario planning however, it should not for instance inform Local Government LEP’s for inclusion in revising LEP’s in 2014 re coastline and sea level issues and equally it should not hardwire our statutory water planning instruments).
The CSIRO in written response to the Commonwealth regarding its terms of reference for the Murray Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project stated:
“It is stressed here that in spite of the wording of the November7 Communiqué (COAG),CSIRO has not been contracted to quantify sustainable yields of surface and groundwater in the Murray Darling Basin…….Defining sustainable yields requires consideration of social, economic and environmental aspects of water allocation and use which are beyond the scope of this work. Importantly, such decisions should also be informed by a careful process of community and stakeholder consultation”
The much touted work of the CSIRO is premised by the CSIRO itself to be inadequate without consideration of social, economic and environmental aspects of water allocation.
The IGA must require that this work be carried out; we ask that we are able to view the IGA in draft form to confirm the inclusion of a requirement to carry out the social and economic study by competent economic modellers.
Should our reasonable request to have a proper study prior to and required by the IGA we are unable to agree to the signing of the COAG IGA On Murray-Darling Basin Reform as it represents a diminishing of our rights as NSW citizens.