Senate debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Statements by Senators

Murray-Darling Basin

1:39 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As a servant to the many different people who make up our one Queensland community it's my job to raise issues that matter to constituents. Minister Plibersek has hijacked the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to win votes in the city at the expense of the bush. The minister has just announced a 42 gigalitre buyback of agricultural water—farming water—which is 42,000 million litres of water now, with the threat of another 450 gigalitres in buybacks before 2027. Originally there was never any intention to get the last 450 gigalitres of water, which was only intended to flow out to sea, through buybacks. The water was always supposed to come from measures to reduce water loss from natural and man-made constraints right across the basin.

Justifying the weaponisation of this last 450 gigalitres as the only way to open the Murray mouth is spurious. Flow from the Coorong water system can open the mouth, yet this has not occurred in living memory, because South Australia spent 140 years digging drains to divert surface flow, and with it aquifer flow, away from the Coorong catchment and out to sea. The South Australian government's south-east drains restoration project is now correcting that mistake at last and last year returned 100 gigalitres to the Coorong.

One Nation calls on the state and federal water ministers to end political grandstanding, to suspend the 450 gigalitre acquisition and to provide funds to complete stage 2 of the south-east drains restoration project, which should eventually return at least double stage 1. This is how we get the extra water to open the Murray mouth and to reverse 50 years of environmental damage to the Coorong and lower lakes due to political lies. Our amazing farmers use their water to feed and clothe the world. Stop treating them like criminals just to win votes off the teals and Greens in the city.