The management of the Murray–Darling system is important to all Australians, and it is appropriate that our elected representatives determine what is best for all Australians.
I am nevertheless disappointed that the Australian Parliament has voted to disallow an amendment to the Basin Plan affecting the northern Basin.
The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) stands by the Northern Basin review process, which was based on the best available science and evidence, peer-reviewed by independent experts, and involved an extensive and comprehensive consultation over four years.
The MDBA is an independent, science-based and evidence-driven organisation, and we will remain focused on our chief objective—to deliver the Murray–Darling Basin Plan in a way that will ensure a sustainable future for our nation’s most important river system and the communities and industries that rely on it.
I urge all parties to continue to work together in a spirit of consensus and cooperation to deliver the Basin Plan—this remains our nation’s best pathway for securing the environmental future of this vital shared resource and the communities that depend on it.
In undertaking the Northern Basin Review, the MDBA was well aware of concerns about compliance, high levels of unregulated take, and the need for effective protection of environmental water in the Northern Basin.
These issues are not signs of problems with the Basin Plan—on the contrary, they further underline the need for the Basin Plan.
The Basin Plan is the solution to these issues—but we must remember we are only part way into the implementation of this visionary and long-term policy.
Work is already underway to address these issues through both a ‘toolkit’ of measures agreed between Queensland, New South Wales and the Commonwealth, and by action on compliance following the MDBA’s Basin-wide compliance review that was agreed by all Basin Ministers.
I sincerely hope that this work will not be jeopardised by today’s disallowance of the northern Basin Amendments.
I would like to thank the hundreds of community members as well as environmental, Aboriginal, industry and community stakeholders who were part of the four year review process. In particular, I acknowledge the significant work of the Northern Basin Advisory Committee and the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations in the Northern Basin Review over this time.
I assure you that, despite the Amendments being disallowed, all these contributions have not been wasted. The information and views shared with us will continue to be part of a valuable evidence base for the MDBA as we continue working to implement the Basin Plan in a way that achieves the best possible balance of social, economic and environmental outcomes.
I know that many communities in the Basin will be very concerned about the possibility of further water recovery, and the uncertainty brought about by disallowance of the Amendments.
I would like to assure these communities that the need to balance social, economic and environmental outcomes is at the heart of the Basin Plan, and remains paramount in its implementation.
The Parliament is still to consider the disallowance of Amendments affecting the southern Basin. I hope that all parties will take into account the peer-reviewed science and evidence based work of the MDBA when considering these Amendments, and consider what is at stake.
Basin Plan limits on water take become legally binding in mid-2019. We are on the verge of beginning to realise the full benefits of the Plan, and providing certainty and stability to Basin communities.
I sincerely hope that all parties will continue to work together and stay the course with implementation of the Basin Plan.
Source: Murray-Darling Basin Authority