The National Irrigators Council has asked the Federal Government and Opposition to clearly and unequivocally reject a Bill proposed by South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon today.

The Bill would provide the Commonwealth Minister the power to demand preparation of a Basin Plan in a period of 30 days – a task that will be difficult even within a period of two years – engage in compulsory acquisition and penalise water users for actions undertaken by States.

Acting Chief Executive Officer Andrew Gregson is appalled by the Bill.

“Senator Xenophon, in a grab for attention, is threatening to destroy enormous amounts of work by the States, the Commonwealth, environmental and irrigator groups to bring about the Basin Authority and a national approach to management of the resource.

“By proposing a Bill that is beyond the Constitutional powers of the Commonwealth and that precludes the MDB Ministerial Council, Senator Xenophon threatens to undo the work furthered by the IGA. Put simply, the States will – and rightly should – halt work on legislation to refer powers to the Commonwealth if the Commonwealth is considering the foolhardy action proposed by the Senator.

The Council has contacted both the Government and the Opposition asking that they publicly reject the Bill immediately and not create further instability by referring it to the Senate Inquiry established by the Greens and Xenophon.

“It’s foolhardy and should be rejected out of hand.”