Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says she is encouraged by the response of the Victorian Government on water policy, as she and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) Water Leadership Forum continues to advocate for adjustments in the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
Today in Parliament, Ms Sheed asked Water Minister Lisa Neville to outline the Government’s policy in relation to the 450GL of upwater, which has been widely debated since the tumultuous Ministerial Council Meeting held in Adelaide on Friday.
“Victoria…has done the heavy lifting. We’ve already delivered 711GL, most of which is high reliability water. We’ve got 116GL as part of our water recovery projects, including the Connections Project. We’ve got 19 business cases for environmental projects,” Minister Neville said.
The Victorian Government is due to release its own socio economic report soon, which Minister Neville said “has already indicated that there is potential for significant impact on horticulture and dairy”.
It echoes the findings of the GMID Water Leadership Forum report released in October, which showed $550mill worth of production has been lost the region annually, since the implementation of the current Basin Plan.
“Minister Neville acknowledged we need to ‘do something differently’ to deliver the 450GL,” Ms Sheed said.
“She also reiterated, under the Plan, that water can only be delivered if there is a neutral or improved socio economic outcome for communities. Clearly, the evidence is already suggesting otherwise.
“Minister Neville has committed to no further government buybacks, and no movement on the 450GL, unless it can be shown there is a neutral or a better socio economic impact.
On the back of today’s recommendation by the Basin Authority that it will be reducing its recovery from the Northern Basin by 70GL, the Victorian Government’s commitment is a positive sign for our communities,” Ms Sheed said.
Ms Sheed has backed the appointment of an Independent panel to find the best environmental outcomes in the plan, with the minimal impact on communities.
“Our GMID Water Leadership Forum is advocating that other ways to achieve the water for the environment be found, other than taking it from the consumptive pool,” she said.
However, she is disappointed South Australia has not supported the measure.
“South Australia should come on board with Victoria and New South Wales, to find the best possible outcomes for their communities.
“I can only hope Minister Neville’s South Australian counterpart will return to the table with a positive agenda for achieving environmental outcomes without further detriment to our Basin communities, including his own,” Ms Sheed said.
Sueanne McCumstie 0428 743 880│firstname.lastname@example.org