Wind­sor de­mands strat­egy

Southern Riverina news - - News -

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.’’

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