The revelation today that the Victorian Government cannot finish nine environmental water projects signals the end of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan as we know it.
The Albanese Governments failure to work with the States means the Basin Plan is now broken and we can expect to see a return to the water wars that have plagued our Federation.
It is understood that Victorian Water Minister Harriet Shing has halted work on nine Victorian Murray floodplain restoration projects, due to fears the federal government will not reimburse it for the work.’
The projects, part of Victoria’s commitment to the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM), were hoped to contribute environmental watering efficiencies of over 72 gigalitres, cutting the volume of water the federal Government needs to buy out of irrigation communities.
Shadow Water Minister, Perin Davey said the cancellation is a direct result of the Federal Government refusing Victoria’s request for a two-year extension to the deadline for delivery of SDLAM projects.
“Despite the Water Minister, Tanya Plibersek, saying all options would be on the table to deliver the Basin Plan, the one option both NSW and Victoria have asked for has been refused,” Senator Davey said.
“The Albanese Government was informed last year that agreements to fund environmental projects needed to be locked in by October 2022 or an extension was needed. We are now seeing the results of Minister Plibersek’s decision not to make a decision.
Senator Davey pointed to reports Victoria has already spent more than $54 million on the design, survey and environmental assessments.
“The Victorian Government has repeatedly called on Minister Plibersek to be flexible on the 2024 deadline for some complex projects because they need to be co-designed with communities”.’
“With Covid lock downs, then major flooding and some projects like the constraint’s projects on the Lower Darling strongly opposed by local communities there must be that level of flexibility.
“We were promised adaptable management and yet all we have seen from this Government is a fixed view of either buybacks or bust.
“The saddest part is that it is the environment that will suffer. These projects were specifically designed to improve the environmental outcomes at targeted sites.
“The Minister must reconsider her reluctance to extend the deadline of these projects to enable the outcomes of the Basin Plan to be delivered rather than the number,” Senator Davey said.