IT’S STILL THE SAME
Stakeholders slam ‘revised’ basin plan
A virtually unchanged ‘revised’ version of the MurrayDarling Basin Plan released on Monday has been met with anger by local stakeholders.
Irrigator and community groups have again called for a more balanced basin plan.
Sustainable diversion limits, which indicate the amount of water diverted from productive food-producing use to the environment, remain unchanged in the ‘new’ plan.
And of the 2750 gigalitres (GL) to be rediverted, 2300GL is from the southern connected system - the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Goulburn Valleys.
Southern Riverina Irrigator chair Ted Hatty said it showed the community consultation by the Murray-darling Basin Authority (MDBA) was ‘‘nothing more than a sham’’.
‘‘Despite nearly two years of trying to communicate with the Authority, decisions are being made to appease environmentalists living in Canberra, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.
‘‘Claims that the Murray River is dead and dying were false and a whole campaign of misinformation has been built up during the drought.
‘‘I am disgusted and have completely lost faith in government processes.’’
Mr Hatty said the MDBA still could not justify the need for more water and labelled the basin plan as ‘‘green politics at its worst’’.
‘‘The Authority’s target of 2750GL of water will mean that approximately 50 per cent of historical water use is to be lost in the Southern Riverina Region.
‘‘Imagine if 50 per cent of economic production is lost in a suburb in Melbourne or Sydney. What do you think the flow on effect will be to those communities?
‘‘Well, this is what the MDBA is proposing for our communities. This is absolute madness and cannot be justified.
‘‘Politicians of all persuasions should stop and really assess what this means to Australia’s national interests.’’
Mr Hatty said basin communities have already been through significant water reform to improve outcomes for the environment, including the 2004 sharing plans ‘‘which have never been tested due to drought’’.
The flawed basin plan process means all this hard work has now been thrown into the bin, he added.
‘‘When politicians reacted to the drought and passed the Water Act 2007, they got it wrong,’’ Mr Hatty said.
‘‘They should admit their mistakes and ensure that the resulting basin plan will not devastate rural communities.’’
Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia president Les Gordon said the revised plan was still a ‘‘very long way from what irrigators and irrigation communities across the Basin will accept’’.
Murray Group of Concerned Communities (MGCC) chair Bruce Simpson said the revised edition showed the contempt the MDBA has for basin communities.
Mr Simpson said the MDBA had ignored the practical advice provided by state governments and communities, and continue to focus on removing large volumes of water from productive use at the expense of irrigation communities.
‘‘There is no revision in this document,’’ he said.
‘‘They have merely proof-read the draft and tweaked some wording here and there.
‘‘They have clearly ignored the thousands of submissions they received from irrigation communities about the devastating impacts this will have on our towns.’’
Referring to MGCC’S own submission on the basin plan, Mr Simpson said the MDBA continues to ignore the real issues, including constraints to water delivery and the social and economic impact on regional communities.
Also angered by the lack of change in the revised basin plan draft, Murray Irrigation Limited general manager Anthony Couroupis said community fears the consultation period was more about ticking boxes than coming up with solutions has been realised.
‘‘Despite 20 weeks of consultation, copious meetings throughout the basin, assurances that our concerns were being heard, and over 12,000 submissions, the MDBA has changed nothing of substance in the basin plan,’’ Mr Couroupis said.
‘‘As far as Murray Irrigation is concerned, any changes in this document are superficial.’’