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TIME is running out for those seeking to lodge submissions to a parliamentary committee that is examining the future of Australian cotton exports.

The Export Control Amendment (Banning Cotton Exports to Ensure Water Security) Bill 2019 was referred to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee for Inquiry.

Submissions close on 8 April with a report to be prepared by 12 August.

The future of cotton has come under the microscope, given it is a thirsty crop and requires considerable allocations from parts of the Darling River Basin.

In a statement published online Australian Peak Shippers Association secretariat Travis Brooks-Garrett said they supported the position of APSA member the Australian Cotton Shippers Association “in totally rejecting the proposed bill”.

“Australia is one of the largest cotton exporters in the world, it generates more than AUD $2bn in export revenue every year and underpins a number of regional communities,” Mr Brooks-Garrett said.

“More than 99% of Australia’s cotton is exported, much of it at a premium price as it is considered high-quality in international markets.”

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Mr Brooks-Garrett said while the severity of the Murray-Darling Basin issues was acknowledged, these were water management issues, not cotton issues.

“Water management issues need to be addressed, but not by wiping out one of Australia’s most important export commodities,” he said.

The bill is being driven by South Australian Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick who has called for a cotton export ban to draw attention to the plight of the Murray-Darling river system and the over-extraction by irrigators.

“We export 90% of the cotton grown in Australia,” Senator Patrick told The Guardian earlier this year. “About 20% of the basin water goes to cotton. It’s like exporting 20% of the Murray-Darling to China and India. It’s not in the national interest: it goes to food security and the environment.”

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