One month before the planned release of the draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the Labor government has not been able to give the Senate any details of plans to consult on the draft plan, said Senator Bridget McKenzie, Senator for Victoria.
“It’s extremely concerning that at this late hour, Labor doesn’t even have a plan for a plan. Rhondda Dickson, CEO of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, could give us no details of what will happen once the plan is released” said Senator McKenzie.
“Labor claims that they will undertake the consultation that communities want but who will judge that? How are they going to determine it, if they don’t talk with the community?
“Perhaps we need to have a public meeting to determine if we should have a public meeting!”
“The Labor party’s tin ear is a double blow to northern Victoria given that figures leaked last month show that cuts remain at the same level for the Goulburn system as were proposed last year. I thought Labor got the message loud and clear that those cuts were going to impose severe economic and social hardship to communities already doing it tough but apparently nothing has changed.
The message was loud and clear- but seems to have gotten lost in the translation. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority could not clarify in supplementary senate estimates today if they had even considered the social and economic impact of taking either the revised 344 billion litres or original 349 billion litres out of the Goulburn system.
“This is not just about irrigators, it is about the person who has bought the local service station in Shepparton and the person who is paying off a mortgage in Swan Hill.”
In the Guide to the Basin plan released in November last year, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority proposed cuts of 349 billion litres to water environmental assets in the Goulburn valley. In the figures leaked last month, the equivalent cut remains at 344 billion litres.
“This is just the latest example of how Labor’s ignorance of regional Australia causing great damage to the jobs and industry of regional Australia.
“They let a TV program run the country for a month while our $300 million live cattle trade in the north was shut down, now they are going to fiddle with the nation’s food bowl in the south without even talking to the 2.1 million people who live in the Basin”.