Political stunt puts farmers' futures at risk
Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says yesterday’s political stunt by the federal opposition has put the future of regional communities in jeopardy and could force the failure of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
Last night the federal Greens, Labor and Nick Xenophon Team parties voted to block an adjustment to the Northern Basin’s water recovery target.
Ms Sheed said while the move was expected, it was a significant blow to all Basin communities – including communities in South Australia, whose government lobbied for the adjustment to be disallowed.
“The Greens and Labor have been threatening to block the adjustment for some weeks, so the result comes as no surprise,” Ms Sheed said.
“Nevertheless, it is incredibly distressing for our regional communities to be placed in a situation of even greater uncertainty about our future than ever before.
“The Goulburn Murray Irrigation District Water Leadership Forum called for a pause in the Plan last November to allow time for the many reviews and inquiries to be completed and the serious issues of inadequate compliance, metering and inappropriate use of environmental water in the Northern Basin to be understood and resolved.
“The decision to forge on with the Plan at all costs has now resulted in what will inevitably be another period of chaos, while states and communities scramble to understand what this extraordinary deviation from the Plan means on the ground.”
Ms Sheed urged the federal opposition, and the South Australian government, not to risk further disruption to industry and community confidence by blocking the Southern Basin adjustment still before the Senate.
“The Victorian Government has said it wants to meet its obligations under the Basin Plan. Victoria has already done so much of the heavy lifting and is now on the home stretch,” Ms Sheed said.
“The 605GL worth of projects still under consideration will deliver important environmental outcomes without taking further water from the Victorian farmers who put food on all our tables, and I hope they will not be sabotaged in the same way.”
Ms Sheed said it was also troubling to see the Federal Liberal-National Government’s policy backflip on how much water the Plan needs to recover.
“The Plan we signed up to was a 2750GL plan. It has always been a 2750GL plan, with an additional 450GL for South Australia to be looked at only if neutral or positive socio-economic impacts for communities could be assured,” Ms Sheed said.
“Former Nationals’ Water Minister Barnaby Joyce was adamant this extra 450GL could not be achieved without seriously hurting river communities, yet now we have his replacement – the National Party’s David Littleproud – openly spruiking a 3200GL plan.
“Who is the National Party really representing if they are so willing to sell the livelihoods of Murray Darling Basin food producers down the river?”
Riahn Smith 0419 138 978│firstname.lastname@example.org