Burke blasted on plan
A threat by Labor to force the adoption of the 450 Gl of extra water for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been rejected by irrigators and the Federal Government.
Labor water spokesperson Tony Burke has threatened to move for an amendment to the Water Act which would force the government to deliver the extra 450 Gl outlined in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The amendment would mean that the 650 Gl which has been saved through environmental works would not be able to be released unless the 450 Gl is also agreed to.
Mr Burke, who made the statement in parliament last week, said Labor would have ‘‘no choice’’ but to push for the amendment, unless they had a guarantee from Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce that the plan would be delivered in full.
‘‘Unless he can step back from his argument that the 450 Gl is undeliverable by refusing to quote the entirety of the plan, Labor will have no choice, when this bill reaches the Senate, but to move an amendment to the Water Act which says, ‘You cannot get the full 650 Gl unless the 450 is delivered as well’,’’ Mr Burke told the House of Representatives.
‘‘Labor cannot see a situation, and will not accept a situation, where we have a government that is willing to deliver the 650 Gl benefit to irrigation communities and then says the 450 Gl additional is just all too hard.’’
The comments were met with a strong rebuke from Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, who said Mr Burke’s actions were ‘‘truly bizarre’’ and his actions were a ‘‘sure-fire way to blow the whole thing up’’.
‘‘The last time the Member for Watson spoke about the basin plan in this chamber last November, he spoke extensively about the negotiation that went into settling the plan, as he did today,’’ he said.
‘‘So, Member for Watson, do not come into this place threatening to backflip on that agreement. In your own words, you said hold your nerve on the agreement that has already been reached.’’
VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson savaged the move by Mr Burke, labelling it ‘‘ridiculous’’.
‘‘How many more jobs, farms and towns will be lost if the agreement reached to provide some balance in the plan is ignored?’’ Mr Anderson said.
‘‘Rural communities have seen significant impacts through the loss of irrigation water already so it would be ridiculous to go ahead with recovering an extra 450 Gl of water when these communities are already reeling.’’
Standing firm . . . Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is arguing the 450 Gl of water is dependant on no significant socioeconomic impact.
Pushing his point . . . Labor water spokesman Tony Burke wants the 450 Gl of extra water for the basin plan legislated.