Social and economic impacts of the Basin Plan in Victoria February 2017

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Social and economic impacts of the Basin Plan in Victoria

February 2017

Contact details:

  • TC&A (Tim Cummins & Associates): 207/85 Rathdowne St, Carlton VIC 3053 / 0414 629 117

  • Frontier Economics: Ground Floor, 395 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000 / 03 9620 4488


The information contained in this publication is intended for general use, to assist public knowledge and discussion and to help improve the development of sustainable water use. The information should not be relied upon for the purpose of a particular matter. Legal advice should be obtained before any action or decision is taken on the basis of any material in this document. Tim Cummins & Associates Pty Ltd, the author or contributors do not assume liability of any kind whatsoever resulting from any person’s use or reliance upon the content of this document.

Table of Contents

Acronyms 5

Glossary 7

Executive Summary 11

Understanding the southern-connected Basin as a whole 11

Impacts at the farm scale 12

Impacts for horticultural industries 15

Impacts on the dairy industry 17

Impacts in the GMID 19

Impacts in NSW 21

Impacts in South Australia 22

Socio-economic impacts 22

Environmental benefits 22

Conclusions 23

1Introduction 25

1.1About the Basin Plan 25

1.2Purpose of this report 26

1.3Structure of this report 26

1.4Methodology 27

2An overview of irrigation in the southern-connected Murray-Darling Basin 30

2.1Overview 30

2.2Understanding the southern-connected Basin as a system 30

2.3The main irrigated industries and their geographic centres 37

2.4System dynamics 38

2.5Summing up 39

3Observed water use in Victoria since water recovery commenced – compared with a logically constructed ‘counterfactual’ 40

3.1Overview 40

3.2Observed water use in Victoria since water recovery commenced 40

3.3Influences on water use at the time water recovery commenced 41

3.4Water recovery under the Basin Plan 43

3.5The counterfactual – water use in the absence of the Basin Plan 51

3.6Summing up 53

4The impacts of the Basin Plan at the farm scale 54

4.1Overview 54

4.2The MDBA’s preferred approach to socio-economic evaluation 54

4.3Benefits of water recovery at the farm scale 56

4.4Observed ex-post behaviour of Victorians who participated in the buyback 57

4.5Corroborating evidence from ABARES Farm Surveys 59

4.6An analysis of the assumptions implicit in the vendors’ acceptance of the prices at which buyback occurred 61

4.7Trends in water use per hectare for different industries 64

4.8Summing up 65

5The impacts of the Basin Plan on horticultural industries 66

5.1Overview 66

5.2Trends in horticultural expansion 66

5.3Irrigated horticulture in the counterfactual 68

5.4Overall implications of the Basin Plan for horticulture 68

5.5Implications for LMW diverters 69

5.6Implications for the pumped districts 69

5.7Implications for the gravity districts 70

5.8Implications for South Australian horticulture 70

5.9Implications for NSW Horticulture 72

5.10Summing up 72

6The impacts of the Basin Plan on the dairy industry 73

6.1Overview 73

6.2A brief discussion of the complexity involved in substituting feed for water 73

6.3A short history of irrigator experience with different feeding systems 75

6.4The irrigated dairy industry in the counterfactual 76

6.5The Irrigated dairy industry today 77

7 79

7.1The dairy industry’s options in responding to low water availability 80

7.2Implications for future viablity and growth 82

7.3Supporting evidence coming out of the land use mapping survey 85

7.4Summing up 86

8Impacts in NSW – and their implications for Victoria 87

8.1Overview 87

8.2The Murrumbidgee 87

8.3NSW Murray 90

8.4Possible future trends 93

8.5Implications for Victoria and the potential for further industry shifts 95

8.6NSW structural adjustment pressures arising from water recovery 95

8.7Summing up 96

9The impacts of the Basin Plan at the regional scale 98

9.1Overview 98

9.2The nature of the problem 98

9.3Future outlook 100

9.4The delivery share conundrum 104

9.5Transforming the GMID 105

9.6Summing up 106

1The impacts of the Basin Plan at the system scale 107

10Socio-economic impacts of the Basin Plan 108

10.1ABS data 112

10.2Regional Wellbeing data 113

11The impacts of the Basin Plan for three future SDL scenarios 116

11.1A broad comparison with the counterfactual 116

11.2Impacts at the farm scale 117

1.1Impacts at the system scale 117

11.3Impacts in geographic industry centres 128

2Environmental outcomes and benefits 129

2.1The method used to determine SDLs 129

2.2Expected environmental outcomes 131

2.3Measured environmental outcomes 133

12Conclusions 136

Appendices 138

1Socio-economic data 139

12.1Metrics and indicators used in this report 139

12.2Socio-economic context information 143

12.3Regional Wellbeing Survey 156

13Basin Plan Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) water recovery scenarios 158

13.1Purpose 158

13.2Discussion 158

14Effects of the different approaches to water recovery 172

14.1Buyback 173

14.2Delivery system water savings 176

14.3On farm water savings 176

15 Water price effects of water recovery 181

16Expected future horticultural demands for water 189

3References 195

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