Time to reset the basin plan

March 01, 2018

THOSE behind the Speak Up Campaign believe political disruption of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan recently should be the trigger to re-evaluate its progress.

THOSE behind the Speak Up Campaign believe political disruption of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan recently should be the trigger to re-evaluate its progress.

Spokesperson Loretta Warren said the Senate passing a disallowance motion was the latest proof that too much of the plan was about politics, rather than developing effective, balanced water policy.

She said the plan was not delivering the social, economic and environmental balance that was promised.

‘‘In addition, every time we get to an important phase in its implementation – like we did recently — ‘playing politics’ takes over,’’ she said.

‘‘That tells us we need to take a fresh look at what the plan is delivering.

‘‘Frustration has reached fever point with the political games being played, whether it’s from food producers and local communities who are being affected, or the bureaucrats trying to implement the plan.

‘‘Politicians continue to break promises and try to wreck any attempts at achieving balanced water policy in their selfish attempts to win votes. So let’s take a step back, reset the plan and work out how we can achieve outcomes that protect the environment, while still growing the food we all need.”

Mrs Warren said the narrow focus taken by the Greens, in particular, with support from Labor, was distressing for hard-working Australians in rural and regional areas.

‘‘The Greens talk about large corporates taking too much water, but ignore the family farmers in the Southern Basin who respect the land they manage and want nothing more, or less, than a basin plan that delivers fairness and balance. As a consequence of the political games, these producers who are providing food and fibre for our nation, and the rest of the world, are punished.

“And as Senator David Leyonhjelm correctly pointed out in the Senate, those most seriously impacted are the businesses which service the irrigation industry in southern NSW and northern Victoria, from where the majority of water has been recovered – the machinery dealership who cannot employ another apprentice, the aerial contractor who has reduced crop dusters and staff, through to the local baker and butcher.

“Rural communities are feeling the most pain, yet are ignored in the whole debate. The lack of compassion for these fellow Australians by the Greens and Labor is disappointing in the extreme.’’

Mrs Warren suggested a starting point for taking a fresh look at the basin plan should be the 2016 Senate Inquiry recommendations.

“After a long and exhausting inquiry there were numerous sensible recommendations to improve the plan, in particular the need for South Australia to invest in localised solutions to the issues at the end of the system, instead of blaming everyone else and relying on the rest of the nation to solve their problems.

“This is supposed to be a plan for the nation, not just one state, but that’s not how it is turning out.”

Mrs Warren agreed with other calls that the next step in evaluating how to progress the basin plan should wait until after the South Australian election.

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