Motions: Murray-Darling Basin Plan

5 December 2019

Senator Hansong-Young:

I move:

That the Senate—

a. notes that mismanagement, water theft and allegations of corruption have undermined confidence in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan;

b. rejects the National Party’s and Mr Barnaby Joyce’s assault on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the environment and South Australia; and

c. calls on the Federal Government to support the delivery of water to South Australia under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan which is necessary for the survival of the River and the Lower Murray, and the communities that rely upon it.

Senator Duniam: I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator Duniam: Thanks, Mr President. This is the last one for the year, so merry Christmas! The government is committed to implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore our important river systems to a healthy and sustainable level to benefit communities, industry and the environment.

Senator Roberts: I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator Roberts: One Nation opposes Senator Hanson-Young's motion, which seeks to cling to South Australia's current share of Murray-Darling Basin water on the pretext of saving the Lower Lakes and the Coorong. This motion is based on a lie. The CSIRO has clearly established that the Coorong cannot be saved by sending water down the Murray past the top of the Coorong. The Coorong's natural refreshing flows are from the south-east. Saving the Coorong requires work that is currently underway, the south-east drains based project, to turn the man-made drains in the south-east back to their natural flow. These drains currently take water from the basin and dump it straight into the ocean, bypassing the Murray mouth. Restoring the natural flow of water will flush the Coorong and keep the Murray mouth open. This measure, on which the Greens are silent, will not only save the Coorong but it will also assist in saving the Murray mouth without taking water from the rest of the basin. Honest and better use of water in South Australia will increase production and agriculture, jobs and income.

Senator Patrick: I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator Patrick: Centre Alliance does support the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, but we firmly believe that amendments are required to it—changes to deal with things like overextraction and mismanagement. In fact, that's one of the reasons why we have a select committee looking at how the Murray-Darling Basin is managed. We have a situation where, over the last two years, the New South Wales government have threatened to pull out of the plan six times. They need to stop behaving like a petulant child and get on board with the plan, working with all of the states to come up with a sensible plan. It does require amendment, but it does not require what has been suggested by the New South Wales government.

The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion moved by Senator Hanson-Young be agreed to.

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