At today’s Senate Water Estimates hearings, the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) confirmed Labor’s buybacks are back and coming to seven valleys across the Basin and it has nothing to do with recovering any of the 450GL.
The Department said the volume, totalling 46GL, was needed to ‘bridge the gap’ and as such the socio-economic assessment criteria agreed by the Ministerial Council for the 450GL does not apply.
“This news will send shivers through the impacted communities in the seven valleys which include the Condamine Balonne in Queensland, Barwon-Darling, Border Rivers, Namoi, Lachlan and Murray Valleys in NSW and the ACT,” said Shadow Water Minister, Perin Davey.
“When The Nationals were in Government with the Liberals, we were very cognisant of the damage buybacks had done to regional communities and made water recovery about outcomes, even for the bridging the gap amount.
“We ruled out buybacks and concentrated on on-and-off farm infrastructure which could improve water efficiency outcomes whilst returning water to the environment.
“Buybacks don’t impact the people selling water, what they do is damage those who want to remain in agriculture by removing not only water for production, but the ability to increase production using less water, which then has a flow on effect for all the industries reliant on agriculture.
“In many Basin communities just about every job and business in town can be linked back to the economic base of irrigated agriculture.
“The Government won’t even tell Australians how much this move is going to cost them, with the Budget line being displayed as ‘not-for-publication’.
“The worst part about it is communities in the valleys being targeted for water buyback are currently underwater and many won’t be following what the Labor Party has in store for them,” Senator Davey said.