our Minority Report on the Water Amendment Bill 2008 the Australian Greens
outlined our concerns with the approach both the Commonwealth and State
Governments are taking to managing the Murray Darling Basin System, we made a
series of recommendations and we proposed a way forward – The MDB 2010-2050
Basin is facing a crisis of a scale and magnitude that outstrips any
agricultural or environmental challenge of the past. The scale of the crisis is
becoming greater every year. The magnitude of our response must reflect this
scale if we are to avoid serious social consequences for basin communities, a
significant threat to our food security, and the irretrievable loss of precious
habitats. While there has been some progress in negotiations with Victoria and
some ad hoc community planning is occurring, we remain deeply concerned
about the future of the system and believe that further reform is necessary.
we agree with many of the recommendations of the majority report we can not
support putting off purchases of water when they become available. Instead we
urge the Government to put more resources into community planning and not rely
on the ad hoc patchwork process that is occurring in the Basin at
production and security remain vitally important issues, and we need to take a
strategic approach to ensuring that we keep our most productive lands in
agriculture as much as possible. At the same time we must face the reality of
the fact that the system has been over-allocated and we will need to push on
with improving the efficiency of our irrigation infrastructure and returning
more water to the system to ensure our levels of water extraction are
sustainable for the long term.
Australian Greens strongly agree that the issues of the monitoring surface
water and groundwater use, and of the unregulated interception of overflow
flows need urgently addressing.
Australian Greens recommend:
That the Basin Plan be
developed and implementation commenced by 2011.
That existing State water
sharing plans should be required to come into line with the Basin Plan within 6
months of its release, and not delayed until 2014 (or 2019 in Victoria).
planning is better co-ordinated, facilitated and resourced to enable
communities to produce plans which integrate infrastructure investment, water
sales and structural adjustment.
community plans are prioritised in assessing applications for funding under Water
for Our Future.
That the Water
Act should be amended to:
Exclude consideration of new extractive uses outside
of the basin in the provisions of the Basin Plan
Ensure the Objects of the Act and the Murray Darling
Basin Authority have an explicit focus on managing environmental health and
integration with Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and
compliance with Ramsar and other international environmental treaties
that water entitlements are defined as shares of available water, and take into
account the variability of the northern basin
Senator Rachel Siewert
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