Pol­i­tics in the way of de­vel­op­ing best plan


Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Barnaby Joyce says any changes to the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan must be done at an ex­ec­u­tive level rather than through leg­is­la­tion.

The Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources Min­is­ter said it may be the only way to ef­fect change in the Basin Plan, which he ac­knowl­edges is flawed.

Meet­ing with ir­ri­ga­tion in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives last Wed­nes­day evening in De­niliquin, Mr Joyce said pol­i­tics will un­for­tu­nately al­ways get in the way of de­vel­op­ing a plan that ad­e­quately suits all par­ties.

‘‘With the Wa­ter Act, to get any­thing changed — and I’m not mak­ing ex­cuses, this is re­al­ity — it needs to get through the Greens and La­bor, and that is dif­fi­cult,’’ Mr Joyce said.

‘‘I get the mo­ti­va­tion that we have to get this right, but we do work in a po­lit­i­cal sys­tem and we do not run both houses.

‘‘All that has been dis­cussed here (in De­niliquin) are meet­ings I have al­ready had on your be­half with­out even meet­ing you. We have an Act and we have to try and deal with it.’’

Mr Joyce didn’t dis­agree with lo­cal food pro­ducer Ken Cross­ley who said the Basin Plan was a ‘‘po­lit­i­cal plan and not an en­vi­ron­men­tal plan’’ at Wed­nes­day night’s meet­ing.

Mr Cross­ley added that state bor­ders need to be ig­nored, and all is­sues dis­cussed as one.

‘‘We have to deal with South Aus­tralia,’’ Mr Joyce said.

‘‘We’ve got to try and get a bet­ter plan and we need South Aus­tralia to come on board with that.’’

Back­ing up Mr Joyce’s ar­gu­ment, Fed­eral Mem­ber for Far­rer Sus­san Ley main­tained she be­lieved the Basin Plan process must move for­ward and not back­wards.

‘‘The chal­lenges (with the Basin Plan) are not in­sur­mount­able, but we can’t get rid of the plan — I cer­tainly don’t want to,’’ she said.

‘‘I believe we need to land the plan in a place where the pub­lic and the farm­ers have con­fi­dence in it. We don’t have that yet.’’

One of the last to speak at Wed­nes­day night’s meet­ing, Neil Ea­gle said he was con­fi­dent ‘‘even­tu­ally com­mon sense will pre­vail’’ in re­gards to the Basin Plan.

He also said he wanted to hear Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull, who was Wa­ter Min­is­ter when the Wa­ter Act 2007 was in­tro­duced, ad­mit its faults.

‘‘The Wa­ter Act has some fun­da­men­tal prob­lems,’’ Mr Ea­gle said.

‘‘Mr Turn­bull would show he is a great leader if he would ac­knowl­edge there is a prob­lem. It would warm my heart to hear that from him.’’

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