14 Feb 2018
Senate fires shot across the bow in Murray-Darling battle
SA’s peak environment body has welcomed tonight’s decision by the Senate to disallow an amendment that would have reduced environmental water returns in the Murray-Darling system.
‘This is an important shot across the bow in the battle to protect the integrity of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’, said Conservation SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins.
‘But the big battle is still to come with a vote looming on whether to allow a reduction of 605GL for the Southern Basin.’
‘This water is crucial for our unique environments, birds and fish. It is essential for our Ramsar wetland areas, for our river red gums, and for communities all along the Murray-Darling that rely on a healthy river.’
The Senate will vote on the disallowance motion for the Southern Basin Sustainable Diversion Limit by 10 May. The proposed reduction will replace real water for the river with a suite of projects designed to deliver equivalent outcomes. But how effective will these projects be?
Also unclear is how the Vic and NSW Governments will react to tonight’s Senate decision.
‘South Australia has most to lose if the Plan falls over, but equally, we have the most to lose if the Plan fails to work,’ said Mr Wilkins.
‘Public confidence has been rocked by the allegations of corruption in NSW and Qld. In addition, the Wentworth Group have pointed out that the majority of the projects for the Southern Basin don’t meet criteria established by the Murray Darling Basin Authority itself.
‘It’s rank hypocrisy of the NSW Government to threaten to walk away from the Plan when they have overseen the area at the centre of all the allegations of theft, corruption and poor regulation and compliance.
‘Major reform is needed to ensure SA gets its fair share, and until this happens it’s only right that we pause, fix the rules and re-set the Plan’s delivery.
‘All players in this debate need to remain cool-headed and make sure every single decision from this time onwards is in the long term interests of the health of the Murray.
‘We congratulate Sarah Hanson-Young and all the other SA Senators who have stood up for our state, and for our nation’s lifeblood,’ he said.
Media contact: Craig Wilkins, 0417 879 439