Bridget McKenzie, The Nationals Senator for Victoria, has used parliamentary debate into long term sustainable diversion limits within the Murray Darling Basin to highlight the need for recognition of the impact on communities and industries in northern Victoria of the forthcoming Murray Darling Basin Plan.
The Senate’s Environment and Communications Committee tabled a report into the Water Amendment (Long-term Average Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012 inquiry earlier this week.
“The inquiry revealed stakeholders still had many unanswered questions about the final Murray Darling Basin Plan. Reform fatigue is rampant in local communities as well as a mistrust of the Murray Darling Basin Authority,” Senator McKenzie said.
“This is, of course, perfectly in keeping with the haphazard way in which the government has gone about the Murray Darling Basin Plan process from the start.”
The Bill establishes a process of Ministerial oversight for the Basin plan’s sustainable diversion limit adjustments and makes the limits a disallowable legislative instrument – so Parliament can have input. It also ensures public consultation ahead of any proposed changes.
Senator McKenzie said she welcomed these changes.
“The government’s approach of non-strategic buybacks has resulted, to date, in causing social and economic detriment to Victorian Basin communities.
“The Coalition has moved an amendment to have socio-economic impacts inserted into the Bill on behalf of local Basin communities, to ensure that communities don’t suffer any social or economic detriment through the Plan’s implementation.
“A balanced plan is one that ensures those people and businesses that stand to be directly affected by the legislation are also considered by the legislation.
“It considers the environmental, economic and social impacts of the plan.”
Senator McKenzie reiterated her commitment that she wouldn’t support a bad Plan. The final Plan is expected to be tabled in Parliament next week.