Wednesday, 2 December 2020
I, and also on behalf of Senator Whish-Wilson, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Murray-Darling Basin has been plagued by greed, corruption, water theft and a lack of action on climate change,
(ii) corporate irrigators have been allowed to run amok with water at the expense of river communities, small family farms and the environment,
(iv) the ICAC found that irrigators' interests had been prioritised over the environment, and
(v) the ICAC made 15 recommendations, including to specifically deal with the undue focus on irrigators' interests within NSW water agencies and the:
(A) lengthy history of failure in giving proper and full effect to the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW),
(B) failure to fully implement water sharing plans and ensure they are audited,
(C) need to fund independent scientific audits to determine the ecological health of rivers,
(D) lack of transparency, balance and fairness in consultation processes undertaken by water agencies in relation to external stakeholders, and
(E) sidelining of public officials undertaking environmental roles within the NSW Government; and
(b) calls for a Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin.
Okay. So I will put clause (a)(i) and (ii) separately to the remainder of the motion—is that correct? It's clauses (i) and (ii) of paragraph (a) so paragraph (a) stays there to cover the rest of the clauses if they're treated differently?
An honourable senator interjecting—
Because the Senate could still note clauses (iii), (iv) and (v) without actually noting (i) and (ii).
Alright; that makes it easier. In the question now paragraph (a) and paragraph (b) are being treated separately—essentially, the matter of the royal commission being treated separately to the substantive matters.
Senator Hanson-Young interjecting—
I'm just trying to assist the Senate, Senator Hanson-Young. Senator Roberts?
One Nation supports this motion. One Nation and the Greens may well expect different outcomes from a royal commission, yet there can be only one set of facts and a royal commission will decide those facts. We expect a royal commission to find that the level of dishonest and illegal behaviour in the basin has allowed some people to make out like bandits while family farmers struggle. We expect a finding that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan works best for entities that have strong close links to the National Party in New South Wales. The plan will be seen to be destroying the productive capacity of one of the world's richest agricultural areas, destroying rural communities and transferring wealth from everyday Australians to large corporates. We expect that the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office will be found responsible for environmental damage across the basin and the Coorong. It's time to eliminate the bad actors from the plan so that hardworking Australian farmers can return to growing food and fibre for the world whilst protecting the natural environment.