JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
7 June 2017
Getting the Murray-Darling Basin Plan back on track
A coalition of 22 environment, Indigenous and community groups has called on State and Commonwealth governments to implement the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on time and in full and rule out delaying or weakening environmental water recovery targets.
The call comes ahead of Thursday night’s special COAG meeting of basin State Premiers and the Prime Minister, where they will decide on a credible pathway to implementing the Basin Plan as agreed in 2012.
The Basin Plan package in its entirety, which was endorsed by all Basin governments and a bipartisan vote in both houses of federal parliament, aims to recover 3,200 gigalitres (GL) of water for the environment, whilst allowing some of this water to be offset by projects that achieve equivalent environmental outcomes. The groups are calling for the package to be implemented on time and in full to bring benefits of healthy rivers to the communities, Aboriginal people, wildlife, farms and fishers of the Murray-Darling.
The groups are calling on COAG Ministers to:
- Reject proposed changes to water recovery targets in the northern Basin as failing to meet the international and national obligations and laws. MDBA’s proposals are not supported by adequate scientific and socio-economic data.
- Restore scientific rigour to the sustainable diversion limits (SDL) adjustment process in the southern Basin.
- Acknowledge and incorporate into socio-economic assessments that water for the environment serves many environments and communities.
- Provide structural adjustment, regional development and transition planning for adversely impacted communities, rather than abandoning environmental water recovery in an effort to maintain status quo in the face of a drying climate.
- Provide a pathway to recovering the legally-required additional 450 GL through efficiency, and if necessary, buyback measures.
- Encourage States to invest in complementary measures, such as pest control and riparian revegetation, as a complement to environmental water recovery, not as a substitute for it.
- Ensure that the findings of the National Cultural Flows Research Project are integrated into the ongoing implementation of the Basin Plan.