Water Shame It's Come To This

14 February 2018

NXT to support Northern Basin Review Disallowance 

While the Nick Xenophon Team supports the full implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, it will be supporting the Northern Basin Review disallowance motion being voted on in the Senate today. 

"What a shame it's come to this," said Senator Rex Patrick. 

"Over the past twelve months there has been a significant loss of public confidence in the implementation of the Plan."

There have been allegations of water theft, fraud, rorting and meter tampering along with concerns raised by the scientific community that the modelling that underlies the Northern Basin Review recommendations is flawed. All of these have detrimental effects on the amount of water flowing out through the Murray mouth.

"That is bad for South Australia but it's also bad for the health of the entire river system," said Rex.

"Now is not the time to start reconfiguring the Plan. It needs to be fixed first."

The Nick Xenophon Team has been working constructively with the Federal Government to find ways to restore confidence in the Plan. NXT has put forward a number of transparency and compliance measures that, if implemented, would enable NXT to support future Northern Basin Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) changes. 

Many of NXT's recommendations are not unlike those contained in the NSW Government's Matthews Review and the Federal Government's Murray-Darling Basin Water Compliance Review. 

"It seems everyone agrees there is a problem, including governments, and there is general agreement on what needs to be done to fix it," said Rex. "The solutions just need time and the disallowance motion on the Northern Basin Review gives us that time." 

NXT notes that the instrument that will likely be disallowed today can be brought back to the Parliament and supported by NXT once the implementation is back on track. 

There has been a suggestion from the NSW Government that a successful disallowance today would cause them to walk away from the Plan. "That's a little disingenuous considering the NSW Government has its own serious river compliance problems. Their own Matthews Review stated this clearly and indeed there is an ICAC investigation underway into corruption on the Barwon-Darling," said Rex.

"Everyone needs to remain cool-headed. 

"Noting it's a national river system which must be managed on a national level, abandoning the Plan would be counterproductive and the Federal Government must act to ensure this does not occur.

"This could be a real test for the Turnbull Government which must ensure the Plan is held together and implemented properly."

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