Burke blasted on plan

Shepparton News - Country News - - FRONT PAGE - By Alana Chris­tensen

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.’’

Pic­ture: AAP im­age, Mick Tsikas

Stand­ing firm . . . Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce is ar­gu­ing the 450 Gl of wa­ter is de­pen­dant on no sig­nif­i­cant so­cioe­co­nomic im­pact.

Pic­ture: AAP im­age, Lukas Coch

Push­ing his point . . . La­bor wa­ter spokesman Tony Burke wants the 450 Gl of ex­tra wa­ter for the basin plan leg­is­lated.

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