Windsor demands strategy
The Windsor Committee has told the government to do what the Murray Group of Concerned Communities (MGCC) has been saying all along — release a water recovery strategy for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The committee, also known as the Standing Committee on Regional Australia, released its report on Friday.
Federal Water Minister Tony Burke asked the Parliamentary committee to inquire into the impacts of the proposed MurrayDarling Basin Plan in May.
It proposes diverting 2750 gigalitres (GL) of irrigation water to the environment, which is expected to have severe social and economic effects.
The basin plan does not include a strategy for recovering or delivering the diverted water.
The committee’s report recommends the Commonwealth Government release a water recovery strategy ‘‘well in advance’’ of the introduction of the basin plan to Parliament, which is expected to be in August.
MGCC chairman Bruce Simpson said the bipartisan committee’s recommendations are ‘‘strongly aligned with our position’’.
‘‘The committee’s report again shows that if you take the time to talk to stakeholders, look at submissions and actually listen, it is obvious that there are common sense solutions out there that will deliver environmental outcomes without decimating communities,’’ he said.
‘‘The Commonwealth has half the water they plan to collect under the proposed basin plan and where and how they get the remaining water will make the difference between a bad or a balanced plan.’’
The committee also said the government should, ‘‘as a matter of urgency, look seriously at further initiatives to improve river and irrigation management and monitoring’’.
Another recommendation said the government should develop a mechanism to incorporate environmental works and measures efficiencies into the 2750GL.
Mr Simpson welcomed all the recommendations. He also believes the basin water ministers gathered again on Sunday in an off-schedule meeting.
‘‘It will be interesting to see what transpires out of that,’’ he said.
‘‘There will be to-ing and froing for a while yet, particularly between the ministers and the (Murray-Darling Basin) Authority.’’
Mr Simpson said it will be up to Mr Burke to decide when the plan is to be presented to Parliament.
‘‘His goal is to have something ready for Parliament by the spring session, which resumes in August,’’ he said.
‘‘But there’s a lot of politics to be had yet. I suspect this is a long way from being resolved.’’