Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Murray-Darling Basin Plan
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (the Plan) has come under serious scrutiny from both the South Australian Royal Commission and the recent inquiry by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee, and
(ii) the Plan has no provisions to address the impacts of climate change on the Murray Darling Basin; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to take the threat of climate change seriously, and include the impacts of climate change within the Plan.
Before I move on to Senator Ruston, I'm going to remind senators to not try and creep matters for debate, which has crept in over the course of the last week or two, into reading out their notices of motion. This is getting very lengthy. Senator Ruston, you are seeking leave to make a short statement, and leave is granted for one minute.
The Liberal-National coalition government does not support this motion. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority considered the impact of climate on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan by analysing its performance across 114 years of climate records. Managing variability and climate change are embedded in the Basin Plan. The regular 10-yearly reviews provided for in the Basin Plan ensure emerging climate patterns are taken into account.
Labor sought to amend this motion and make it clear that we want climate change to be a critical component of the review of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Unfortunately, this wasn't possible in the time allowed.
Labor would like to put on the record that the plan, and how water is managed in the basin, takes into account climate variability. Water is allocated to any user based on availability. In a wet year, when the dams and rivers have more water in them, more water will be available for use. In a dry year, the opposite happens: allocations are reduced. The way the plan has been established aims to specifically address climate change through 10-yearly reviews. The reviews are required; they aren't optional. This means that climate change and changes in patterns can be considered.