The Murray Darling Basin Authority has failed to answer fundamental questions surrounding Victoria’s future food and social economic security.
The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie directly asked a Senate estimates hearing if the MDBA had taken enough water out of Victoria, and was given an indeterminate no.
“This answer is in stark contrast to the statement made by MDBA Chair Craig Knowles at a public consultation meeting in Swan Hill earlier this year acknowledging ‘if we take 30% of your water out of this community it will have damaging, severe, devastating effects,’” Senator McKenzie said.
“Having quoted this fact to the hearing, the MDBA’s Chief Executive Rhondda Dickson skirted the issue and said the statement related to similar comments about a maximum investment in infrastructure which puts water into the community rather than taking it out.
“Ms Dickson has failed to recollect following the Swan Hill meeting, Labor broke a 13 month promise and announced a new buyback program, despite the fact Victoria had already reached its in-valley reduction targets.
“Victoria has already lost 35 per cent of water in its largest irrigation districts, and the MDBA has repeatedly ignored requests from irrigators to invest in water-saving infrastructure rather than continue to take water from the southern Basin.”
The water authority also admitted it did not expect the magic 2750 gigalitre target to change.
“This is most disappointing given the overwhelming concern from irrigation communities in three states, each of which have adamantly expressed the desire for the buybacks to stop,” Senator McKenzie said.
State water ministers will receive an updated draft plan next week.