The Murray Group of Councils chair has described the Senate report into the Water Amendment Bill as "disappointing, concerning and unbalanced,' when it comes to buybacks.
The Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee has reported to parliament on the Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023.
"It's disappointing that the Senate committee is recommending that the bill is passed into legislation despite the significant negative socio-economic impacts water buybacks will have on our northern Victorian industries, economies and communities," Cr Amos said.
"This statement is not only dismissive of the independent research that show water buybacks have caused significant negative socio-economic impacts, but it also lacks understanding of the concerns of our farmers, workers and industry leaders who have firsthand experience of these consequences."
Cr Amos said the committee's reasoning for using buybacks because they have 'proven to be the most reliable and cost-effective and efficient form of water recovery' was also concerning.
"While buybacks may have short-term efficiencies and less upfront costs, what about the long-term costs of water buybacks on decimated businesses, industries and communities?," he said.
"Or, the long-term costs to Australian families as the reduced availability of fresh dairy and produce pushes prices up at the checkout?
"This reasoning is also unbalanced because it doesn't take into account the triple bottom line of social, economic and environmental impacts."
Cr Amos said it would be too hard to "put the genie back in the bottle" once farms and associated businesses started to close, workers started losing their jobs and participation levels in community programs and local sports clubs started to drop.
"These are the 'hidden impacts' of water buybacks and go to the heart of the social cohesion and connectedness of our communities, and the health and wellbeing of our residents."
In speaking to the Senate about his recent visit to the MRGC region, Victorian David Van said the simplistic "just add water" approach of the Restoring the Rivers Amendment bill was not the answer.
"We need to be walking hand in hand with the people who farm our land and waterways," Senator Van said.
"We need to listen to their solutions, not rely on city-based modelling to determine the future of our food crops and farming communities."
A proposed extension to a looming end of year deadline for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is yet to clinch the crucial support of the Greens or coalition.
The $13 billion plan aimed to return 450 gigalitres of water to the environment by June 2024, but legislation put forward by the Albanese government would push that back to the end of 2027.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek needs the bill to clear the upper house or else the deadline will be missed.
This means the government will be forced to buyback about 300 gigalitres of water from next year, which is more than 120 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
In exchange for their support, the Greens want the bill to guarantee the 450 gigalitres will be recovered.
But the coalition wants the government to include a social and economic impact test for the recovery of that amount of water.
A group of graziers, irrigators and Indigenous leaders visited Parliament House on Tuesday, urging parliamentarians to guarantee more water is returned than is taken out.
The environment minister has warned the new plan was needed as the next El Nino cycle meant less rain and a higher risk of bushfires.
The plan limits the amount of water taken from the basin and seeks to restore the health of the river system.
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