Given the hidden snags in the Water Portfolio Budget, it is no wonder the Water Minister avoided mentioning it in her Budget night posts according to Shadow Water Minister, Perin Davey.
Senator Davey said the Budget for commitments to deliver the Murray Darling Basin Plan is more about headlines than transparency.
“This smoke and mirrors Budget is appalling and just shows how little respect the new Government and the new Minister have for the communities in the Murray Darling Basin.
“The headline is buybacks are back on the table to recover 450GL, but the detail is ‘not-for-publication’,” she said.
“NSW Farmers Federation amongst others have consistently warned of the impacts of buybacks on agricultural production, value add industries and regional economies.
“At a time when the rest of Australia are worried about cost of living, this Government is committed to making it harder to produce food and fibre in this country.
“Meanwhile, the headline is water market reform, but the detail is commercially sensitive. So who will pay for the reform?
Senator Davey said on election, the Government made a big splash about re-forming the National Water Commission, but the Budget only allows for a $500,000 scoping study.1
“As for the rest of the Budget, we are robbing peter by pulling the rug out of the $97 million Healthy Rivers – Healthy Communities program.2
“Who does this Government think are the environmental stewards along our river systems?
“Community groups such as Landcare and other volunteer organisations have been working hard to restore wetlands, improve riparian landscapes and protect our waterways – these outcomes are better for the environment than the just-add-water approach of buybacks.
“Basin Communities have been calling for certainty for years, but all this Budget does is put a cloud over the future for communities across the Basin,” Senator Davey said.
1 Budget October 2022-23 – Budget Paper No.2 – Page 79
2 Budget October 2022-23 – Budget Paper No.2 – Page 62