The Nationals have called on the Minister for Agriculture to meet the Minister for the Environment and Water and demand she put an end to the anxiety and distress she is causing regional communities affected by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Nationals’ Leader David Littleproud said the Minister for Agriculture’s comments that he was too busy and is yet to meet with the Minister for the Environment and Water shows a complete lack of understanding of what taking 450GL out of the consumptive pool would have on productive agriculture.
“The Minister needs to get his head around the Basin Plan and understand that recent comments from the Minister for the Environment and Water threatens to reignite severe pain felt by towns throughout the Basin,” said Mr Littleproud.
“The fact is you cannot take 450GL of water out of the consumptive pool without destroying communities.
“Minister Plibersek is trying to rewrite history. This is their Plan. The additional 450GL was created by Labor, the neutrality test was the safeguard created by Labor.
“I was the Water Minister who had to negotiate a bipartisan approach with all of the State Ministers to get to an agreement on how to meet this test. We agreed we didn’t need to do any more buy backs we could build infrastructure to return water to the environment.”
Deputy Nationals Leader, Senator Perin Davey, said the Labor Government has left many in the Murray-Darling Basin scratching their heads.
“On the one hand the Government says they can’t break a promise made before the election, but they can break the promise made to Basin communities in 2012 that the 450 would only be achieved if there was neutral or positive socio-economic outcomes,” said Senator Davey.
“How did the Basin Plan evolve from being an intent to manage water sustainably to being interpreted as a plan to recover water at all costs?
“There are other projects that could be undertaken to leave water in the system for environmental benefit, but they are being overlooked because there is no associated transfer of licence because there is no licence to start with.”
Mr Littleproud also said this was another example highlighting that the Agriculture Minister is out of his depth.
“Murray Watt, a lawyer from the Gold Coast who is now our Ag Minister, needs a proper understanding of the Basin plan because at the moment his counterpart is tearing it apart,” said Mr Littleproud.
“If he doesn’t have a full comprehension of the Plan then once again he is showing Australia’s producers that he’s not up to the job.”