Regional Murray River communities will shrink after the Greens teamed up with the Albanese Labor Government to revise the Murray Darling Basin Plan in Canberra this week, Member for Mallee Anne Webster says.
The two urban-based parties announced a deal on Monday morning to ensure Water Minister Tanya Plibersek’s Water Act Amendments will pass the Senate, mandating the full recovery of 450GL of additional environmental water by the end of 2027 despite the strong objections of the National and Victorian farmers federations and the Victorian Labor Government.
The Labor-Greens deal also gives the Commonwealth the power to withdraw State Government infrastructure projects deemed unviable.
“Regional communities reliant on irrigation will foot the bill for Labor and the Greens securing their city votes with this deal,” Dr Webster said.
“A few thousand votes in Adelaide is worth more to them than communities on the Murray Darling Basin like Mildura, Robinvale and Swan Hill that produce 40 per cent of Australia’s food and fibre.”
Dr Webster said all Australians will feel the buyback pain at the checkout.
“Labor’s plans to end bipartisanship – a hallmark of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and to reinstate voluntary water buybacks to meet its targets will devastate regional communities left behind when farmers sell their entitlements and leave,” Dr Webster said.
“Shrinking irrigation communities will hurt the truck owners who drive product to market, particularly those with a debt to pay; the hairdressers who will have to shut down, the schools who will have less students and staff – all these flow on effects destroy our towns.
“This new deal also fans the flames of Australia’s cost-of-living crisis. Removing water from the consumptive pool means our farmers grow less food and fibre. With less supply, demand rises and that will cost families at the supermarket checkout when it comes time to put food on the table.
“The Nationals understand how important water is for our regional communities and won’t leave them high and dry like Labor and the Greens. Regional Australians can be assured a Dutton-Littleproud Coalition Government will leave no stone unturned to rectify the huge damage to regional communities and cost-of-living this Labor-Greens deal will do in the next 18-24 months.”