Water Murray-Darling Basin agreement

Murray-Darling Basin agreement

01 November 2017

My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Water, and the action I seek is for the minister to lobby her federal colleagues and insist that they support Victoria's interests in the ongoing implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin plan. This week Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie fired questions at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and federal water bureaucrats during the Senate estimates, standing up for the interests of Victorian irrigators who are facing sustained attacks from environmental lobbyists such as the Wentworth Group. Despite Senator McKenzie's advocacy, Victoria's Labor senators remain absolutely silent on issues involving the Murray-Darling Basin plan.

In fact the voting record of Victoria's Labor senators speaks volumes about where they sit on these issues. Extraordinarily in 2013 senators Kim Carr, Gavin Marshall and Jacinta Collins voted against amendments to the Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012, moved by The Nationals, which would have removed from the plan the ability for the 450 gigalitres of upwater to be recovered through commonwealth buybacks and changed any water recovery from a concrete target of 450 gigalitres to up to 450 gigalitres. In speaking to the amendment Barnaby Joyce highlighted the dire consequences further buybacks would have on Victoria, reflecting that we should be striving to achieve environmental objectives through infrastructure upgrades and environmental works and measures.

It is difficult to see how a Victorian senator of any political persuasion could disagree with that, but senators Carr, Marshall and Collins did and voted against those amendments and against the interests of Victoria. Our senators are there to represent Victoria in its entirety, but for Labor's senators party politics come before the interests of Victoria's basin communities.

I am concerned that Minister Neville seems unable or unwilling to garner even an ounce of support from her federal counterparts. She pays lip service to the concerns of our irrigators and northern Victorian communities, but her voice is very lonely in the Labor Party both here in Victoria and federally. The Liberals and Nationals stand up for Victoria's irrigation communities because they are the communities we represent and live in. Victoria's Labor senators need to draw on a bit of agrarian spirit to muster the courage to do their job in representing all Victorians.

I call on Minister Neville to rally her federal Labor counterparts to support the fair and equitable implementation of the basin plan. This means no further buybacks from Victoria and no recovery of water towards the 450 gigalitres of upwater unless it can be done with neutral or beneficial socio-economic impacts on the communities the water is coming from.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Member for Euroa, could you just repeat the action you are asking of the minister?

Ms RYAN — The action I seek is for the minister to lobby her federal colleagues and insist they support Victoria's interest in the ongoing implementation of the basin plan.


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