To deflect blame for ignoring the complexities of recovering more water from communities, the Government has now misled Parliament with numbers as rubbery as their election promises.
In a bizarre over-reach the Minister for Water, Tanya Plibersek has ignored publicly available advice from her own Department and claimed to have recovered contracted more water in three months for the 450GL up-water than the Coalition did in Government. The Minister’s own website shows this claim is simply not true.
Senator Davey said for the Labor Party, the Basin Plan has always been a game of numbers, not about achieving long-term sustainable reforms which delivered environmental, social and economic outcomes in the real world.
“The finger-pointing can only get the Minister for Water so far. It is disappointing to see the Minister blaming the Coalition for not delivering the 450GL for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan when she has already made it clear the 450GL could not be delivered,” Senator Davey said.
“The social and economic neutrality provision were put in place by Labor Party when last in Government, yet they conveniently spent 9 years in opposition ignoring the complexities and difficulties to deliver both it and other important aspects such as constraints management strategy.
“State Governments recognise this. The Victorian Labor Government has consistently made it clear the additional 450 gigalitres could not be recovered without major social and impacts.
“Did Labor Party pick up the phone and speak to their counterparts in Victoria prior to the last election?” Senator Davey said.
The Victorian Labor Government made no secret of its opposition to buybacks and the difficulties associated with the 2024 deadlines.
Senator Davey said there was a tendency by some within the Government to downplay the reforms which have already occurred which has seen over 4,000, Gigalitres returned to the environment and rules changed to ensure environmental water can be more efficiently delivered.
“We are seeing the results of these reforms with record numbers of birds breeding simultaneously across multiply iconic wetlands across the basin, something which hasn’t happened for over twenty years,” Senator Davey said.
“We are also seeing native fish recovering with an ecologist from the University of Adelaide reporting the southern pygmy perch, a threatened species bounced back in numbers not seen in years thanks to environmental watering and unregulated river flows from recent rainfall.
“The Department for Environment and Water has said that in the past, only up to 20 individual new fish were found during monitoring, yet the latest surveys found the pygmy perch population rising by hundreds where monitoring took place around Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert.
We must continue to build on these fantastic outcomes and for the Government to deliberately ignore and underplay the results which have been achieved to date for cheap political points is very disappointing,” Senator Davey said.