Adjournment: My adjournment is for the acting Minister for Water, and the action I seek is that he make a submission on behalf of the Victorian government to the inquiry into flood plain harvesting being conducted by a select committee of the Legislative Council of the New South Wales Parliament. Submissions for this inquiry close on 13 August 2021.
I have raised with the minister on several occasions my great concerns about flood plain harvesting in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. Earlier this year I and other stakeholders from my region travelled up the Darling River into southern Queensland and across to Moree looking at the proliferation of dams that have been built on private land, all in breach of the cap agreement in the Murray-Darling Basin plan that was put in place in 1995. It is truly astounding to see. The flows in the Darling River and the lack thereof have an impact on Victoria and the Goulburn-Murray irrigation district, which is in my electorate. The Darling River contributes to the downstream flows of the Murray-Darling Basin, and this contribution is enhanced by the Menindee Lakes.
The current basin agreement means that the Victorian and New South Wales systems are obliged to meet the minimum flows and dilution flows across the South Australian border each year and provide South Australia with their share. If the Darling does not flow in any season, then the shortfall has to be made up by Victoria and southern New South Wales from the Murray. So a failure to supply from the Darling River in any year directly and adversely impacts the Victorian and New South Wales Murray allocations. This has been occurring with increased regularity.
Canada’s largest state-owned pension fund has now acquired more than $4 billion worth of Australian farms and irrigation water, and some of these assets are located in the northern basin, where they enjoy the current benefits of unregulated flood plain harvesting as well as their purchased entitlements. These investors do not care about the state of our environment or about our rivers. The facilitation of foreign ownership of water of this magnitude is truly staggering. The corporatisation of land and water in our local communities is having a dramatic effect on the socio-economic wellbeing of these communities.
The New South Wales government has only recently introduced regulations to its Parliament to effectively legitimise this flood plain harvesting, and the upper house of the Parliament has disallowed those amendments on several occasions and appointed this inquiry to look into the matter. The Victorian government knows the damage that has been done to the Darling River by flood plain harvesting in the north, and I call on the government to— (Time expired)