Media Releases

Sheed criticises the Basin Community Committee over Communiqué

July 22, 2019

Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed has criticised the recent communiqué released by the Basin Community Committee. The Communique released in June failed to identify the massive issues in our basin communities, according to Ms Sheed.

“The relevance and independence of the BCC must be questioned. Do they really represent their communities or are they simply a mouthpiece for the MDBA and DAWR? This last communique contains statements that simply do not resonate at all with Northern Victorian and NSW Murray and Lower Darling communities”, Ms Sheed said.

In its communiqué the BCC said there is a need for all Basin governments to work together to restore trust in the Basin Plan.

“It is hard to see how this could possibly happen. Trust in the plan cannot be restored without transparently addressing wide spread community perceptions of fundamental flaws in the propositions and assumptions that underpinned the development of the reform,” Ms Sheed said.

Ms Sheed referred to the renewed debate about South Australia’s Lower Lakes originally being estuarine.

“It seems inconceivable to many that the Federal Water Minister would not be calling for an independent review of the matters raised on the front page of the Weekly Times recently in respect to the saline history of the Lower Lakes in SA. This is a question of scientific fact and must be investigated. The Minister should be brave enough to commission an independent review on this issue,” Ms Sheed said.

“It now appears that the Plan has and continues to pour huge Murray River flows into the Lower Lakes despite long known but recently confirmed evidence that they were not always fresh water lakes but were indeed estuarine lakes fed from the ocean and fresh water flushes from time to time,” Ms Sheed said.

“The Murray Goulburn Irrigation District and other Murray River communities are suffering under the burden of supplying fresh water to the Lower Lakes, doubly so for having to do the heavy lifting for the Northern Basin which is not delivering due to years of drought and floodplain harvesting.

“We now know the Murray Darling Basin Plan to have been rorted and seriously mismanaged. It is a plan that has had devastating socio-economic impacts on our regional communities and has sent many farmers to the wall.

In criticising the BCCs communiqué, Ms Sheed said that for the committee to suggest that further engagement and consultation within basin communities is needed shows a very significant disconnect with those communities.

“Asking this of communities, when they have such a long history of not having their feedback and concerns acted on will be a dishearteningly empty exercise and will not build trust. Communities understood the futility of trying to engage meaningfully with the MDBA and DAWR long ago and most have little or nothing new to say to government on these matters. If we have not been heard by now, promising to listen again seems to be simply more shallow words,” Ms Sheed said.

“For the BCC to now urge ministers across the Murray Darling to urgently get on with the implementation of the plan is extraordinary and flies in the face of recommendations of the Productivity Commission which called for more flexibility in relation to timelines and delivery of the plan. Communities feel it is urgent for the MDBA and DAWR to not cause any more environmental, economic or social damage in the pursuit of this reform.”

Until deliverability, constraints and the implementation of proper regulation and monitoring in the Northern Basin are worked through, there is almost no point recovering any more water at all.  

“I am concerned by the Basin Community Committee’s communique as it fails to address some very challenging issues being felt across the Murray Darling Basin,” Ms Sheed said.

ENDS

Media contact

Myles Peterson 0467 035 840│myles.peterson@parliament.vic.gov.au

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