The Labor Government chose to spend precious time allocated to respond to questions on the social and economic impact of its proposed Murray-Darling water recovery strategy obfuscating about lobster and wine trade to China in a deliberate attempt to avoid providing details.
Shadow Minister for Water Senator Perin Davey said it was clear Agriculture Minister Murray Watt did not know or care what the impacts would be after being asked in Question Time today.
The line of questions followed the Government’s failure to respond to a Senate Order to Produce Documents that would provide the requested detail.
“The Government promised it would be transparent in its actions and decisions, yet we are seeing anything but as it continues hiding key information that is crucial for transparency and informed decision making,” Senator Davey said.
“Minister Watt also refused to specify which constraints projects are necessary to ensure that environmental water can be effectively used to achieve desired outcomes consistent with the objectives outlined in 2012 by then Water Minister, Tony Burke.
“This raises doubts about Labor’s commitment to responsible environmental management.
“Environmental conservation must go hand in hand with social and economic well-being. It is our duty to ensure that environmental measures do not harm communities,” Senator Davey said.
Senator Davey also referenced concerns raised by Basin Community Committee Indigenous Member Mr Feli McHughes about the impact to communities and the need to recognise other ways to achieve environmental outcomes.
“When questioned on Mr McHughes’ concerns the Government refused to even acknowledge there’d be any impact and again refused to release key information,” Senator Davey said.
“It is crucial the Government listens to the voices of the Basin communities like Mr McHughes who express valid concerns and suggest alternative proposals like Billabong Restoration and complementary measures to achieve the right balance.
“It is time for transparency and accountability. The Australian people have the right to know how the Murray-Darling Basin Plan will affect their communities, their cost of living, and their environment,” Senator Davey said.