Proposed amendments being put forward by Victorian Senator David Van, with the agreement of the Labor Government, are a step in the right direction but don’t go far enough according to Shadow Water Minister, Senator Perin Davey.
“The joint press conference by Minister Plibersek and Senator David Van was an acknowledgement of what we have said all along, that buybacks have and will hurt communities,” she said.
“The amendments by Senator Van recognise that, but could go further to reflect the criteria laid out in the 2018 Ministerial Council agreement reached by all Basin State Water Ministers.
“It is all well and good for the Minister to report her considerations to parliament each year, but communities deserve to know against what criteria she is measuring and considering.
“That is why The Nationals and Liberals will be moving our own social and economic criteria to adopt that agreement, and we call on Senator Van to support our more robust test.
The Opposition also supported an amendment put to the Senate to call for the Government to consider utilising lease options rather than exclusively relying on buybacks, when it comes to securing water for the environment.
“The Opposition has long called for the Government to have all options on the table, including utilising lease options, rather than buybacks.
“We will also be moving amendments to keep the cap on buybacks. We believe that is the only way to ensure the Government lives up to their rhetoric to keep all options on the table.
“This is the only way to make them do the hard work and consider options including complementary measures like fish passage or off-farm measures before they consider lazy buyback.
“Despite this, we welcome the Government finally acknowledging that social and economic factors must be considered,” Senator Davey said.