Monday, 7 December 2020
Murray-Darling Basin Plan
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Sefton report on the independent assessment of social and economic conditions in the [Murray-Darling] Basin concluded that 'the overall target for water recovery…cannot be achieved by 2024, and also cannot be achieved within the funds available',
(ii) the review of the Water for the Environmental Special Account concluded that less than 1% of the 450 gigalitres of additional environmental water required under the plan had been recovered, and
(iii) during the October 2020 estimates session on cross portfolio Murray-Darling Basin Plan matters, Senator Birmingham was unable to identify the projects that would be relied on to recover the water required under the plan;
(b) further notes that failing to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan would threaten:
(i) the productivity and resilience of industries, particularly for food and fibre production, and
(ii) natural features that Australians love and enjoy such as the Alexandrina, Coorong and the Lower Lakes; and
(c) calls on the Government to guarantee that it will deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full.
by leave—I move:
Subparagraph (a) (iii), omit "identify the projects", substitute "identify the state projects".
Omit paragraphs (b) and (c), substitute
(b) further notes that delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan would threaten the productivity and resilience of industries, particularly for food and fibre production;
(c) acknowledges that the 450 gigalitres of 'up water' will result in significant socio-economic damage and should not be recovered from on-farm, irrigated agriculture or the consumptive pool;
(d) calls on all state basin governments to ensure no further extractive licenses downstream of known constraints, including the Barmah and Goulburn Chokes; and
(e) calls on the federal and state basin governments to ensure the remaining parts of the Basin Plan are delivered in a flexible and adaptable manner consistent with the intent of the Basin Plan.
The opposition will be opposing Senator McKenzie's amendment. The amendment reflects the views of many in the Morrison-McCormack government and is a perfect demonstration of why the Morrison-McCormack government cannot be trusted to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The Morrison-McCormack government is committed to the Basin Plan. The Basin Plan implementation is a shared responsibility between basin governments. On 4 September this year, Minister Pitt announced the $270 million Murray-Darling Communities Investment Package, which brings basin communities back to the heart of the Basin Plan. We've considered the reports and listened to communities. We're moving towards off-farm efficiencies and have ruled out any further buybacks. We're delivering outcomes for regional basin communities and the environment. Stunts like this one from Labor do nothing to deliver for communities or for the environment.
I'd like to put on the record that the Greens will not be supporting Senator McKenzie's amendment to this motion. I point to paragraph (c) in particular, which talks about the problems, as the National Party describe them, with the 450 gigalitres. I want to make it very clear that any South Australian senator who votes for this will need to go back to Adelaide and explain why they've just sold out our state. Whether it's Senator Birmingham, Senator Fawcett or any other Liberal coalition member who votes for this—prepare to see the wrath of the South Australians when you've sold us down the river.
The department of agriculture has already acquired 2,075 gigalitres for the environment, leaving just 450 gigalitres to come from efficiency savings. Connected basin farmers do not have 450 gigalitres to give up and they do not need to. For thousands of years, the high-rainfall area known as the south-east sent a long-term average of 450 gigalitres of freshwater into the Coorong and Lower Lakes. Between 1864 and 2011, the South Australian government built a network of drains to take that water out into the great Southern Ocean, where it is destroying native seagrasses. This motion is demanding that water to fix the Coorong and Lower Lakes still come from other states, including Queensland. One Nation has a better idea. Turn the drains back around and use South Australia's own water to solve the many environmental issues affecting the Coorong and Lower Lakes. These are problems South Australia created for itself, and they have a simple solution.
I won't be supporting this amendment from Senator McKenzie. The plan involves a number of stakeholders—including the environment, pastoralists, irrigators, tourism operators and recreational users—and it has been laid out and agreed amongst all of the states. When it gets tough for the irrigators, they quickly say: 'Let's change the plan. Let's not deliver the plan. Let's do something different.' It's quite disingenuous, and it's quite disrespectful to the fact that the plan has been agreed by all and involves compromise by all. Irrigators need to understand the importance of the plan and stick with it.
The question is that the amendment moved by Senator McKenzie be agreed to.
The question is that general business notice of motion No. 917, standing in the name of Senator Farrell and others, be agreed to.
Question agreed to.