JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
The Greens are already putting demands on the Albanese Labor Government to rewrite the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to the detriment of Basin communities.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is not only trying to write the ALP’s water policy, but also dictate their Ministry demanding a South Australian Minister be appointed to oversee the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and to deny “upstream states water.”
The Nationals Senate Leader and Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, said Greens dictating policy and ministers in an Albanese-Bandt coalition spells disaster for the regions.
“Senator Hanson-Young is putting yachting marinas in South Australia ahead of upstream communities, wetlands and forests and it is reprehensible,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The 450 gigalitres was never guaranteed, as Labor and the Greens would have people believe. It was always conditional on no negative socio-economic impacts to Basin communities.
“For too long northern Victorian and NSW irrigation communities have been at risk of paying a social and economic price for Labor and the Greens’ pushes to recover more water.
“Labor and the Greens’ policies aren’t based on science and they have no agility to deliver the Plan in a flexible way that supports Basin communities and industries.
“The Nationals know what these communities and industries need which is to focus on outcomes across the Basin, because we can do more with less for the environment while protecting our regional economies.
“That is why we moved amendments to remove the 450-gigalitre up water and to remove water buybacks, to allow new 605-gigalitre offset projects, and no water be taken from communities until the Plan is reviewed in 2024,” Senator McKenzie said.
The Greens have campaigned to put the environment at the centre of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and to ensure any new Plan delivers water buybacks for environmental flows, while Labor’s Five Point Plan will deliver the 450 gigalitres for South Australia and increase compliance.
New South Wales Senator, Perin Davey, who lives in the Murray Irrigation districts along the ecologically sensitive Murray, Edward, Wakool Rivers systems said both Labor and the Greens have forgotten the Plan should be about the whole Basin.
“The Basin Plan should be about water management – not water recovery. Somewhere along the line it seems we forgot the original intent which is to make the whole Basin more resilient using flexible and adaptable management.
“There are a raft of natural physical constraints to delivery of water which are yet to be resolved yet both Labor and the Greens want to flush more water to the Lower Lakes without a care about the upstream environment,” Senator Davey said.
Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack agreed, saying he is worried about any attempt by Labor and the Greens to remove almost the equivalent of a Sydney Harbour worth of water from productive use.
“How would they even achieve that?
“It’s almost physically impossible to do it without creating an environmental disaster in itself with over-bank flooding. This would create man-made floods for no environmental outcome.
“River communities deserve better and what they are talking about is unachievable without creating social and economic catastrophes for some of our best country towns,” Mr. McCormack said.
Incoming Member for Nicholls, Sam Birrell said: “It is disturbing the relish with which the Greens are wanting to destroy Basin communities – farmers, families, shop owners, regional professionals will all suffer hugely if these illogical water policies are enacted.
“Not only that, the attempt to push more water down our river system will create environmental problems for the Goulburn, the Murray, and specifically, the Barmah Choke.
“This shouldn’t be about politics. This should be about the health of our rivers and our people,” Mr. Birrell said.
Member for Mallee, Dr. Anne Webster said, “The original intended purpose of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was that there be a national approach to our most precious, national resource – water.
“Senator Hanson-Young’s approach to this critical subject is destructive, is partisan, and will serve no other purpose than a political one for the Greens.
“The horticultural industry in Mallee and the full reach of the Murray-Darling Basin precinct cannot be jeopardised by an ill-thought out, Greens political agenda,” Dr. Webster said.
The Nationals will always fight for Murray Darling Basin industries and communities.