The failure by Water Minister, Tanya Plibersek, to deliver an agreed outcome at today’s MINCo meeting will lead to another period of immense upheaval in the Murray Darling Basin.
Shadow Water Minister, Perin Davey, said it was particularly concerning to see the Commonwealth Water Minister ignore two key State Governments’ requests to contemplate the completion of the Basin Plan in a way that does not severely impact basin communities.
“NSW and Victoria both presented the option for an extension of the deadline which would enable a package of works to allow the water recovered to be used to maximise environmental outcomes,” she said.
“The Albanese Government’s reckless actions and failure to take the impacts of recent flooding and COVID 19 into account now mean State Governments may have little choice other than to walk away from key parts of the Basin Plan.
“It is a legislative requirement that any notified project that will not be operational by 30 June 2024 must be withdrawn. This means the 605 GL SDL adjustment will not be met.
“Minister Plibersek has known for a while that some SDLAM, 450GL and constraints projects cannot be delivered by June 2024. Basin Ministers have previously received briefings stating projects must be withdrawn if deadlines can’t be met.
“By refusing to countenance an extension means we are now in unchartered territory on a trajectory that could end very badly for Basin communities and still not deliver the environmental outcomes being sought as we are not addressing anything but numbers on a page.
“The Minister has effectively said no to the multiple projects identified by communities which provide excellent environmental outcomes and more effective water management.
“The outcome of today’s MinCo will be a disappointment for communities the length and breadth of the Basin,” Senator Davey said.