The current level of floodplain harvesting is inconsistent with legislation. Reducing the practice to lawful levels could be done with minimal economic impact due to the export-oriented and capital-intensive nature of cotton production. Even in cotton producing regions, cotton accounts for less than 5% of jobs. Despite a reputation for high profits, major cotton producers rarely pay tax according to Australian Tax Office data.
In response to The Australia Institute submission to this inquiry, irrigation lobby group Northern Valley Irrigators Alliance (NVIA) commissioned a report titled “Irrigation industry economic benefits”, written by consultants Macroplan. The Australia Institute responded on notice to the NVIA report, which focuses on northern Basin agriculture in general not floodplain harvesting specifically. It provides no analysis of the economic impact of changes to floodplain harvesting volumes. No part of the report contradicts the findings of The Australia Institute’s submission. Most of the analysis actually reinforces our conclusion – that floodplain harvesting volumes could be reduced with minimal impact on employment, supply chain industries and public revenue.