‘Nat’ defence of 450 support
Regional representative for The Nationals, Perin Davey, said she thought the risk to the region ‘‘was too high’’ to support a motion to block the recovery of an additional 450 gigalitres of water under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
The NSW Nationals have come under fire for voting against the Victorian Nationals’ motion at the party’s recent Federal Council meeting.
Ms Davey, who was representing the NSW Nationals as one of its executive members, said while she does not support the 450GL policy on principle, supporting its abandonment would have had far higher consequences for the Murray Valley.
‘‘The motion from Victoria was a simple motion — to oppose the 450 gigalitres — and when I initially read it I also opposed it (the 450GL).
‘‘But I went to the minister (Federal Agricultural Minister David Littleproud) and I asked him what it would mean on the ground if the motion got up.
‘‘The minister is still bound by law regardless of what the Nationals do, and he said all the good work on offsets would ground to a halt. He would be required to recover the full 2750 gigalitres in the (basin) plan by 2019.
‘‘It might mean getting out the cheque book (and buying water entitlements) and I thought the risk (to the region) was too high, so I voted against the motion.’’
Ms Davey said she also sought advice from former Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, who offered similar advice to his successor.
‘‘In the Murray Valley, that full recovery by 2019 would be an additional 200 gigalitres (on top of what has already been recovered from the valley),’’ Ms Davey said.
‘‘I said to the council that it hurt me to vote against the motion, but I think the bigger risk is an open cheque book.
‘‘I have had a few calls from people since the council meeting about the way I voted, because they did not know the context. I would never sell out this region.
‘‘I spoke to the minister (Littleproud) again after the vote and he said he only needs to recover 62 gigalitres of the 450 gigalitres by 2019.
‘‘He has already given an undertaking that it will not come from farms in New South Wales, and that he is working with the state government to broaden the socioeconomic neutrality and making it a stronger test.
‘‘He then has until 2024 to recover the rest of the water, and he knows there is no mood in New South Wales for water purchases.’’