Federal Government As Weak As Water On Murray

17 February 2018

Instead of fighting with each other, they should be fighting for the Murray 

The Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) and SA-Best have labelled the Federal Government weak after an admission in a paid advertisement by South Australian Senator Anne Ruston indicating the Liberals have given up on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

On Wednesday the NXT voted down changes to a 70 billion litre increase in the amount of water that could be extracted from the Northern Basin until such time as the Government explained anomalies in the modelling, opened up transparency in relation to the $13 billion taxpayer funded Plan and put in place measures to stop water theft, rorting and water tampering.

"In supporting the disallowance motion this week, the NXT stood up to the NSW National Party’s threats to trash the Plan," said Senator Rex Patrick, NXT spokesperson for Environment. “And in doing so we’re sending a strong message to anyone and everyone that it’s not OK to steal water.”

The Coalition know that there are all sorts of compliance issues associated with enforcing the Plan. Senator Ruston said in her speech to the Senate, “I'm not moving away from the serious allegations that have been made about what is going on”, but then voted for changes that would see a 20 billion litre reduction to water making it to the Murray Mouth (according to the MDBA documents), in addition to water already stolen from the river system.

“Whilst we fully support the implementation of the Plan, we’re not supporting any changes to it until the Government fixes what is broken first”, said Rebekha Sharkie, NXT Member for Mayo, an electorate that includes the Murray Mouth region. “We also want to see a recent report on the return of 450 billion litres of water to the river through efficiency measures turned from advice to an action plan signed up to by all MDBP States before we agree to any changes that reduce water."

“I also want to know what’s happening with SA Liberals. Are they standing up for big cotton or for the Lower Lakes?” questioned Rebekha.

SA-Best Leader Nick Xenophon, someone who has spent more than a decade supporting the Plan and holding Governments of both persuasions to account on it, also offered full support for the Plan.

“Senator Ruston, and indeed Prime Minister Turnbull, need to exercise whatever fledging influence they have over their Federal and State National Party colleagues to ensure that the Plan doesn’t fall apart. In the national interest, they need to stop bickering and instead focus on keeping the MDBP together," said Nick. 

“Steven Marshall also needs to declare his hand on this”, said Nick. “Is he turning a blind eye to rorting and water theft too, or standing up for SA?"

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