Sheed wants re­port re­lease

Shepparton News - Country News - - FRONT PAGE -

State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Suzanna Sheed has called on the Vic­to­rian Wa­ter Min­is­ter to re­lease the ex­pert panel re­port into the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan’s sus­tain­able di­ver­sion lim­its.

In State Par­lia­ment on Thurs­day, Ms Sheed said the re­port would pro­vide a level of com­fort and more de­tailed knowl­edge about the tech­ni­cal foun­da­tions for mov­ing for­ward on en­vi­ron­men­tal off­set projects.

The ex­pert panel was es­tab­lished by Vic­to­rian Wa­ter Min­is­ter Lisa Neville and NSW Re­gional Wa­ter Min­is­ter Niall Blair in Fe­bru­ary to pro­vide ad­vice on the tech­ni­cal foun­da­tions of the basin plan’s sus­tain­able di­ver­sion limit ad­just­ment mech­a­nism.

This mech­a­nism al­lows for the 2750 Gl of wa­ter to be re­cov­ered un­der the plan to be off­set by 650 Gl worth of projects that de­liver equiv­a­lent en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes.

‘‘When the ex­pert panel was an­nounced, both min­is­ters ar­gued that there was a lack of trans­parency around the as­sump­tions that sit at the heart of the mech­a­nism,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘The panel re­ported back to the min­is­ters in mid-March, yet the re­sults of the re­view have still not been made publicly avail­able.

‘‘This ex­pert panel re­port has been gath­er­ing dust for months while our com­mu­ni­ties are strug­gling.

‘‘Ev­ery­one is be­hav­ing as if re­cov­ery of the ad­di­tional 450 Gl of wa­ter from the con­sump­tive pool is a given, de­spite ev­i­dence of such neg­a­tive im­pacts on our re­gions,’’ she said.

‘‘Given that the re­port was com­mis­sioned to en­sure a level of trans­parency it is now in­cum­bent upon both min­is­ters to jointly re­lease the re­port im­me­di­ately.

‘‘There are al­ready mul­ti­ple in­quiries and in­ves­ti­ga­tions un­der way into the MDBA and with trust in the sys­tem at an all-time low, we need to have all the in­for­ma­tion on the ta­ble.

‘‘While some par­ties may not want to re­lease the data given the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing some of our north­ern neigh­bours, that’s far from a valid rea­son for keep­ing us in the dark.

‘‘We can only won­der what they might be try­ing to hide.’’

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