How communities react to change in the northern basin

13 October 2016

For several months now, we’ve been sharing results with communities on our social and economic research in the northern basin. This has led to a lot of figures quoted out of context about the impacts of water recovery on jobs.

The report Northern Basin Review - technical overview of the social and economic analysis, released this week, focuses on 21 communities in the northern basin and discusses how water recovery affects individual communities in different ways.

We understand these figures will be confronting for some communities and individuals. This is the first time such detailed information has been available and the estimated job losses show some communities are doing it hard and coping with a range of factors, one of which is the Basin Plan.

We have released the report so that people have all the information we have when it comes to the impacts of water recovery on northern basin employment. However, when figures are taken out of context they could cause unnecessary concern for some people.

There is widespread reporting that up to 35 per cent of jobs will be lost in some towns. This does appear in the report concerning agriculture jobs in Collarenebri.

In Collarenebri, we found that water recovery effects on jobs for the farm and farm-related sector, range from 10% in dry years, where there are few seasonal workers employed, to up to a 35 per cent decline in maximum production years. This figure is separate to the impacts of water recovery on total jobs in communities.

Below is a summary of the total job losses for the current Basin Plan recovery target of 390 gigalitres. These effects may be smaller if a lower recovery target is considered. 

Five communities are likely to be unaffected by water recovery, as they have little irrigation and no expected water recovery (Bingara, Chinchilla, Coonabarabran, Gilgandra and Nyngan).

Seven communities are likely to experience quite small effects: for Boggabri, Gunnedah, Goondiwindi, Mungindi, Narrabri and Walgett, water recovery was estimated to have an impact of less than 2% on total jobs. In Brewarrina, there are actually some expected benefits to the community through the expected gains to floodplain graziers on the Lower Balonne floodplain.

The remaining nine communities had modest to quite large changes. In Bourke, Moree, Narromine, Trangie and Wee Waa, the effects of water recovery are estimated to reduce total jobs by less than 4.2%. For Warren and Collarenebri, the recovery of water occurred some time ago. The reduction in total jobs from the recovery of water is estimated to be around 11% in Warren and 21% in Collarenebri. The effects on St George are quite large (9% reduction in total jobs) and are expected to be even greater for Dirranbandi (18% reduction in total jobs).

It is important to note that the report looks at different water recovery scenarios, what happens without a Basin Plan, and what is happening outside of irrigation. For example, some towns have jobs coming in from other industries.

The goal is to manage our precious water resources effectively, efficiently and with long-term vision to deliver a healthy and productive system for future generations.

The Authority wants to make the best decision to balance social, economic and environmental needs in the northern basin. If a recommendation to change the recovery settings in the north is made, we will continue to consult extensively with state governments and the public.

More information and further reports from the Northern Basin Review can be found here.

An information graphic showing how the environment, economic and social research will be considered in the northern basin review.
Northern basin review research graphic
The Authority wants to make the best decision to balance social, economic and environmental needs in the northern basin.


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