Plan lacks re­search, science

Southern Riverina news - - RURAL OUTLOOK -

As more in­for­ma­tion comes to light it is in­creas­ingly ob­vi­ous that de­vel­op­ing the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan lacked the re­search, science and scru­tiny that Aus­tralian tax­pay­ers would ex­pect.

It was de­vel­oped for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses and as a con­se­quence is not pro­vid­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes, com­mu­nity well­be­ing or eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and cer­tainty that were promised.

The com­mu­nity based Speak Up Cam­paign says it is surely time to take stock of what has oc­curred un­der the Basin Plan and make the nec­es­sary ad­just­ments to sup­port im­pacted com­mu­ni­ties.

Spokesper­son Vicki Meyer said the fact sci­en­tists are still ques­tion­ing how much wa­ter should be re­cov­ered, and fail­ing to take into ac­count nu­mer­ous im­pact­ing fac­tors, is in­dis­putable proof that ef­fec­tive plan­ning was not car­ried out in the early stages.

‘‘In past weeks we have had a for­mer Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity sci­en­tist stat­ing he had 30 min­utes to come up with a wa­ter re­cov­ery num­ber and a CSIRO sci­en­tist who claims the MDBA ‘in­ter­fered’ with his re­search and com­pro­mised his sci­en­tific in­tegrity. This is un­ac­cept­able.

‘‘Adding to the in­tegrity is­sues at the MDBA is its ab­so­lute re­fusal to ac­cept com­mu­nity dam­age from the plan.

‘‘We now have com­mu­nity lead­ers con­tin­u­ing their at­tacks on the MDBA for fail­ing to ac­knowl­edge the plan’s dam­age to re­gional com­mu­ni­ties which rely on food and fi­bre pro­duc­tion.

‘‘Ber­ri­gan Shire gen­eral man­ager Rowan Perkins — one of our state’s most ex­pe­ri­enced lo­cal gov­ern­ment lead­ers in the heart of the food bowl — this week de­scribed the im­pact on com­mu­ni­ties as ‘cruel’, said the MDBA’s con­stant at­ti­tude of ‘noth­ing to see here’ con­tra­dicts its own find­ings, and ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment that the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment had in­flicted dam­age on com­mu­ni­ties then ‘shame­fully re­moved the sup­port that it had promised’.

‘‘I sus­pect even in the MDBA they know this is a botched plan that jumps from one cri­sis to another. But they’re all get­ting their mas­sive bu­reau­cratic salaries from the gov­ern­ment’s $13 bil­lion pie, so it ap­pears to be­come a ‘who cares about any­one else’ sce­nario,’’ Ms Meyer said.

She says it is im­per­a­tive the gov­ern­ment steps in and takes stock of the sit­u­a­tion be­fore more tax­payer money is wasted.

The first step would be a full au­dit of all en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter, in­clud­ing ef­fec­tive re­search on how much is needed and how it is go­ing to be de­liv­ered. This must in­clude anal­y­sis of all wa­ter re­cov­ered be­fore the Basin Plan from pro­grams like The Liv­ing Mur­ray and the Na­tional Wa­ter Ini­tia­tive.

There also needs to be a proper and ef­fec­tive as­sess­ment of how much wa­ter can be de­liv­ered with­out caus­ing flood dam­age to public and pri­vate prop­erty.

Ms Meyer said a se­ri­ous Basin Plan that was not po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated would in­clude in­fra­struc­ture projects and mea­sures that make South Aus­tralia ac­count­able.

‘‘How can you have a plan to re­store the Lower Lakes when it does not in­clude in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the im­pact of the bar­rages, the south-east drainage scheme, in­creas­ing wa­ter­front hous­ing de­vel­op­ments, un­der­util­i­sa­tion of the Ade­laide de­sali­na­tion scheme and other lo­calised fac­tors?

‘‘An ef­fec­tive plan would be look­ing at the qual­ity of wa­ter de­liv­ery to achieve en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes, not a quan­tity based on rushed po­lit­i­cal time­frames, which is what we have.’’

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