26 November 2020
Critical moment for the Murray
Tomorrow’s Ministerial Council (MinCo) meeting is set to be a pivotal moment for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, with upstream states pushing hard to extend crucial 2024 deadlines that further risk the health of Australia’s most important River system, says South Australia’s peak environment body.
“This is a critical meeting that could have long-lasting implications for the whole of the Murray-Darling Basin,” said Conservation SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins
“Upstream states have been dragging their feet on responsibilities agreed to in 2012 and it’s time they are called out for it.
“The Basin Plan was a compromise in the first place, we cannot allow any further erosion of the Plan or extension in timeframes.
“The recent independent report into the delivery of the 450GL which SA was promised when we signed up to the Plan paints a very bleak picture for our state.
“Less than 1% of the 450 GL has been recovered, reinforcing the need to take any further delays off the table.
“We must see a decisive pivot at this meeting of River Murray Ministers whereby upstream states start taking real action to deliver on their commitments,” he said.
In October, South Australian Water Minister David Speirs gave a stern warning to Canberra: if Murray water was not delivered, his government would consider legal challenges.
“That is exactly the strength we need to see from our Minister tomorrow,” said Healthy Rivers campaigner, Kate McBride.
“We need our representatives to stand strong and not give in to upstream states’ unreasonable demands to delay implementation.
“It’s not just our environment; whole Basin communities are at stake if we give in.
“Any delay would require a legislated change to the date for ‘reconciliation’ – the date within the plan all water must be returned.
“In September, Minister Pitt announced that two recovery methods would be taken off the table: buying back water and on-farm efficiency projects.
“It will be exceptionally difficult to deliver the plan without these methods, but they are self-imposed limitations, which could and should be reversed by this MinCo meeting.
“We cannot allow upstream states to not deliver and leave us high and dry in South Australia,” she said.
For further comment:
Kate McBride (Conservation SA Healthy Rivers Campaigner) 0458 528 333
Craig Wilkins (Conservation SA Chief Executive) 0417 879 439