Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says the Murray Darling Basin Plan remains in shambles despite strong efforts by Victorian and NSW water ministers at Tuesday's Ministerial Council meeting in Albury to advocate a practical way forward for irrigators and the environment.
Ms Sheed said she was disappointed with South Australia for walking away from their previous commitment to the 605GL of environment offset projects that would prevent the need for further water buybacks
“South Australia is effectively trying to hold these much needed projects to ransom in an attempt to get a political win,” Ms Sheed said.
“They keep talking about delivering the Murray Darling Basin Plan ‘in full and on time’, but what they refuse to admit is that a full plan is a 2750GL plan.
“Victoria and NSW agreed to provide an additional 450GL, on top of the full Plan, only if there were no negative socio-economic impacts on communities and as yet, there is no evidence the water can be recovered without further disastrous results.”
Ms Sheed said while the environmental offset projects needed to be rolled out and communities more thoroughly consulted, it was vital that no more water was taken from the consumptive pool.
She said it was pleasing to see the Victorian and NSW water ministers stand up for their communities and refuse to agree to the delivery of the additional 450GL through on-farm measures.
She also welcomed the agreement by all Basin ministers to the appointment of an independent person to assess and review all the investigations currently being undertaken to ensure they address the serious allegations levelled at the Murray Darling Basin Authority and rogue irrigators.
“Ultimately, I believe a full judicial inquiry into all allegations is called for,” Ms Sheed said.
“However, in the absence of such an inquiry, I welcome the announcement of an independent reviewer as a step towards getting a more fulsome understanding of the current state of the Plan.”
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