Senate debates

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Bills

Water Amendment (Long-term Average Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012; In Committee

10:00 am

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

The Greens will not be supporting this amendment. There are no details, no criteria, in this. Who is to decide what is detrimental? Where is the detail of how that will be measured? It is not on the table. Senator Joyce has not given that to us at all. He wants us to pass this amendment with no details, no criteria, no nothing while at the same time voting down a very detailed amendment that does set some criteria, at least for the environmental outcomes. I would have been more than happy to have talked about how we determine and measure the detrimental socioeconomic indicators but they are just not there.

I want to point out one thing in relation to buybacks. We hear rumours that even within the coalition parties there are splits and people will cross the floor because they do not know what impacts the buybacks will have. There is a myth being peddled, particularly by the Nationals but by the coalition broadly, in relation to the impacts that buybacks are having. We know, at least from the public purse perspective, that buybacks are the most efficient way of returning water to the river. Let's remember why we are doing this because more water has been allocated throughout the system than the river can sustain.

The Australian taxpayer is going through this process of buying back water that should never have been given away in the first place. South Australia uses seven per cent of the entire water in the basin yet we are spending $11 billion to claw back some of the water—just some of the water—that might get us somewhere near to returning the river to health.

We know that buybacks are four to five times cheaper in terms of their return rate of water. This is public money. I find it astonishing that the coalition does not seem to give two hoots about spending $11 billion on a plan that is not even going to achieve the outcomes. Why is that? Chair, I put to you that perhaps because most of the $11 billion will go to friends of Barnaby Joyce. Friends of Barnaby Joyce will get the $11 billion of money.

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