Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012; In Committee
This legislation is drafted the way it is, hence the buyback provisions that you are referring to, because that was the agreement. That was what was necessary to get the states and the Commonwealth to an agreed position on this legislation. I think that we all wanted an agreed outcome. We did not want the Murray-Darling Basin—
Senator Birmingham interjecting—
I am answering the question in the way I think it needs to be answered. You are trying to ask me to predict what is going to happen into the future. I cannot do that. What I can say is that if this legislation passes today, as I hope it will, we will have a sustainable long-term solution to the problems of the Murray-Darling Basin for the first time in Australia's history. That is what we want. That is the outcome we set out to negotiate. These buyback provisions are in here because that was what was necessary to get the parties to an agreed position. That is why they are there. Just how exactly, precisely, they are going to work in every situation into the future I cannot tell you—and I do not think anybody can tell you that. You are asking for answers to questions that cannot be answered. But there is an objective here that I think everybody in the parliament wants to see achieved—that is, a long-term sustainable return to health of the Murray-Darling Basin. We negotiated with the states. We negotiated with all the parties. We have got an agreed outcome. That is what is in this legislation. We do not want to see any adverse socioeconomic impacts along the Murray-Darling Basin and we believe that the way to achieve that is with this piece of legislation.