With only months to go until a Federal election the apparent slip in the bi-partisan support for the Basin Plan should cause concern to anyone interested in achieving this ambitious environmental reform.

CEO of the National Irrigators’ Council, Steve Whan, says “the danger to the Plan comes, unfortunately, from the architects of the original Plan, Labor. Labor’s plan to move a private members motion to remove the cap on buybacks – put in place by the coalition Government with the support of Labor.

“This seems to be a knee jerk and unnecessary response to recent publicity.

“It’s unnecessary because the cap has not been reached and it is, in the longer term, not permanent.

“Basin communities who have thousands of jobs reliant on irrigated agriculture strongly oppose buybacks because they have seen the on the ground evidence of the loss of jobs and population water buyback causes.

“That serious negative socio-economic impact has been confirmed by detailed, peer reviewed, scientific studies that have looked at individual community impacts.

“Probably the most offensive aspect of the recent South Australian Royal
Commission findings was the Commissioner’s arrogant dismissal of socio-economic impacts. It’s very easy for wealthy Sydney lawyers to dismiss the impact on people who live in regional communities, but it isn’t something we expect to see from Labor.

“There is room in the current cap for the next Government to continue to undertake targeted buybacks and there is certainly capacity to ensure that the 605GL of supply measures are delivered.

“Those supply projects are proceeding very slowly, but that is not the communities’ fault. Labor’s commitment should be to speed up the wheels of Government on these projects, not push the blame, and the cost, on to people who have no control.

“We need to be very clear that we will not get the Basin Plan implemented and therefore we will not get further environmental improvement, if the Plan goes back to having battlelines drawn. Labor needs to remember its responsibility to the long term not just focus on today’s headlines.”

Media Contact: Steve Whan 0429 780 883
Tuesday 12 February 2019