Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says she is disappointed to see the Murray Darling Basin Plan being used for political point scoring in the lead up to this year’s federal election.
Ms Sheed said the agreement reached at last December’s meeting of Basin water ministers to define a robust socio-economic test for the recovery of an additional 450GL of water from productive agriculture was too important to Victorian farmers to be tossed aside for electoral advantage by the Federal Labor Party.
“The Murray Darling Basin is facing serious ongoing challenges, but they must be dealt with by a considered, evidence-based approach that reflects the reality on the ground, not the political climate,” Ms Sheed said.
“It is clear that there are steps required to address the terrible impact on the Darling River and the Menindee Lakes, but it is the Northern Basin which must address these issues.
“The Southern Basin, and in particular Victorian farmers, have already done the heavy lifting, returning the majority of water required for the benefit of the environment.
“Unfortunately this has not only caused considerable harm to the social and economic fabric of our farming communities which is continuing but evidence is also emerging that the high flows associated with sending additional water downstream is inflicting concerning damage to river environments in our own state.”
Ms Sheed said it beggared belief that while farmers in the eastern Basin States were already facing challenging drought conditions, politicians would seek to compound their angst.
“We’re facing the worst natural drought since the Millennium Drought and this is only being made worse by the man-made drought caused by water leaving the region under the Murray Darling Basin Plan,” Ms Sheed said.
“For Shadow Water Minister Tony Burke to talk about repealing the cap on water buybacks and trying to overrule an agreement signed by all Basin Plan members just weeks out from a federal election shows such blatant disregard for the plight of farmers who are struggling to simply make ends meet.
“This continued uncertainty is so damaging to our communities, but Basin Plan amendments require agreement by all member states and we will continue to fight to ensure our regions are protected from any further loss of water and that environmental water is put to its best use.”
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