Min­is­ter de­liv­ers signed basin plan

Southern Riverina news - - RURAL OUTLOOK -

The Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan has been signed into law, and there’s al­most noth­ing that can be done about it.

Fed­eral Water Min­is­ter Tony Burke was given the fi­nal plan last Wed­nes­day night, and signed it in the pres­ence of Prime Min­is­ter Ju­lia Gil­lard the next day.

The Coali­tion and the Mur­ray Group of Con­cerned Com­mu­ni­ties (MGCC) have both ad­mit­ted there is lit­tle that can be done.

The plan was never in­tended to go to a vote, and the only av­enue to block it is to get a dis­al­lowance mo­tion passed.

Any Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment has 15 sit­ting days to move a dis­al­lowance mo­tion, but Fed­eral Shadow Water Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce said a dis­al­lowance could re­sult in an even more detri­men­tal out­come.

‘‘I won’t have the num­bers to put it through,’’ he said last Wed­nes­day.

‘‘The Greens would sup­port the La­bor Party.

‘‘That would then al­low the Greens to go back to the ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble and ne­go­ti­ate a worse out­come. They don’t need the Coali­tion.’’

Se­na­tor Joyce said the Greens want to see 4000GL of water re­turned to the en­vi­ron­ment.

Mur­ray Group of Con­cerned Com­mu­ni­ties chair Bruce Simp­son met with Fed­eral In­de­pen­dent Bob Kat­ter Wed­nes­day last week and said he was ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a dis­al­lowance.

How­ever, Mr Simp­son said a dis­al­lowance could al­low the government to keep buy­ing back water off farm­ers.

‘‘Would the neg­a­tive im­pact of not hav­ing any sort of plan be more pro­found than hav­ing some plan, even though it’s the best of the worst?

‘‘It (the plan) gives us a ref­er­ence point by which we can hold politi­cians in any po­lit­i­cal party that find them­selves in power ac­count­able. With­out that frame­work our com­mu­ni­ties are even more vul­ner­a­ble than they are now.’’

Mr Simp­son said if a dis­al­lowance was passed, the plan could not be tabled in Par­lia­ment again for six months.

‘‘But what it doesn’t stop is the government of the day con­tin­u­ing to pro­cure water in what­ever way they think is most ap­pro­pri­ate.

‘‘We will have no means to hold them ac­count­able. They have the right un­der the Water Act [2007].’’

Mr Simp­son said while the MGCC was still re­view­ing the fi­nal plan, he said he had a ‘‘rea­son­ably high ex­pec­ta­tion’’ of what would be in it.

How­ever, he said if any­thing ‘‘left field’’ ap- peared in the plan that would be ‘‘clearly detri­men­tal to our po­si­tion’’, they would con­sider lob­by­ing for a dis­al­lowance.

Se­na­tor Joyce also did not rule out mov­ing a dis­al­lowance.

Mr Simp­son said that be­yond a dis­al­lowance, the only hope left for chang­ing the plan lies af­ter the next Fed­eral elec­tion.

Both Mr Kat­ter and Se­na­tor Joyce have in­di­cated they could go back and change the plan, if they had the power af­ter the 2013 polls.

The Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan will de­liver 2750GL of water to the en­vi­ron­ment.

Leg­is­la­tion to re­cover a fur­ther 450GL, bring­ing the to­tal to 3200GL, was ex­pected to be put to Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day as a sep­a­rate bill.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Far­rer Sus­san Ley has said she ‘‘can’t live with 3200GL’’.

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