Aug 13, 2022 | Media Releases, Media Releases 2022

Members of The Nationals from around Australia voted unanimously to protect the social and economic viability of Murray-Darling Basin communities in the face of Labor’s pursuit of water at any cost.

Moved by the NSW Nationals and seconded by the Victorian Nationals, the South Australian party commended the motion saying everyone should be concerned about the potential for negative social and economic impacts.

Shadow Water Minister, Perin Davey, said the motion was driven by concern in Basin communities about the Labor Government turning their back on their own pledge for neutral or positive social-economic impacts.

“Irrigation communities keep telling me we can’t deliver the 450GL from the consumptive pool without negative social and economic impacts and I believe them,” Senator Davey said.

“Before the election Labor released a 5-point plan for the Murray Darling Basin despite their then water spokesperson, Terri Butler, never having visited NSW or Victorian basin communities.

“The new Water Minister has reiterated her commitment to stripping more water out of communities before she’d even been to the Basin or met with a single Basin resident.

“Labor have chosen to ignore Basin communities and the 10 years of learning, the 2,100GL of water recovered under the Basin Plan and their very own social and economic neutrality pledge,” Senator Davey said.

Nationals Senate Leader, Bridget McKenzie, said Basin communities have done the heavy lifting in the name of water reform and it is time to end the threat of buyback and stop taking water from the consumptive pool.

“It doesn’t matter if it is Shepparton, Robinvale, Deniliquin or Renmark, all Basin communities are at risk from more water recovery. Report after report has highlighted the negative impact on Basin communities of indiscriminate water removal.

“The science has highlighted we should invest in measures that can ensure desired environmental outcomes by using water better, not just taking more water from productive use.

“These communities have reform fatigue. Their farmers just want to get back to the business of growing food and fibre and supporting their local town and businesses,” Senator McKenzie said.

Nationals Member for Nicholls, Sam Birrell, said his electorate sent him to Canberra to fight against further water recovery and to fight for the economic viability of the region.

“I’ve only just been elected but I have heard loud and clear from my communities that enough water has been taken from the consumptive pool,” Mr Birrell said.

Member for Mallee, Anne Webster, echoed the sentiment saying her communities around Mildura and Swan Hill want a healthy river but they also want productive industries at the same time.

“We have done so much to deliver the Basin Plan, but we can’t keep stripping the lifeblood out of our Basin communities,” Dr Webster said.

The motion moved from the floor at The Nationals Federal Council read: ‘That the Federal National Party recommit to maintaining the intent and integrity of the Murray Darling Basin Plan water buyback Neutrality Test to ensure there are no economic, environmental and social impacts in any water recovery program.’