The Albanese Labor Government has taken one more step towards ending all bipartisanship on the Murray Darling Basin Plan, Member for Mallee Anne Webster says.
Water Minister Tanya Plibersek’s Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023 passed the House of Representatives today, bringing buy backs one step closer.
“Minister Plibersek knows the trauma and damage caused to regional communities up and down the basin by the implementation of buy backs, yet her Government’s amendments to the plan will bring them back with no regard for those communities or the patchwork quilt of dry and irrigated paddocks they leave behind,” Dr Webster said.
“It has been said all along this Bill would tear up the bipartisanship that has been a hallmark of the Murray Darling Basin Plan since its inception and today’s vote in the House simply confirms Labor will to do just that.”
More than 2100GL of the 2750GL of water required to complete the plan has been recovered to date.
“This happened by using common sense and infrastructure, which has returned water to the environment while honouring the socioeconomic neutrality test the Nationals had all Basin States agree to in 2018,” Dr Webster said. “Labor is now edging towards removing that test to bring back buy backs. Farmers doing it tough or retiring may find buybacks appealing, but at what cost to the community?”
Dr Webster said the resumption of buy backs was “nasty ideology” that showed no regard for the nation’s foodbowl.
“Labor could not even wait for a Senate Inquiry to be completed in rushing through this legislation, to go through the details and lay out the impacts buy backs will have,” Dr Webster said.
“They would not give the communities affected the respect to talk to them locally, with Labor and the Greens banding together to block a motion by my Nationals colleague and Shadow Water Minister Perin Davey that would have forced the Inquiry to meet in the regions impacted. Instead that was left to the Coalition, which is why we conducted a tour with members of the Agriculture Committee and Basin Members to meet in Mildura, Renmark, Shepparton, Griffith and Moree to hear the concerns on the ground.”
The Bill will now be debated in the Senate.