Labor has resolved today to support the disallowance of the instrument dealing with the Northern Murray-Darling Basin – the Basin Plan Amendment Instrument 2017 (No. 1).

Labor has always believed it was appropriate to have a review of the water recovery targets of the Northern Basin.

The Northern Basin still has inadequate metering and NSW still needs to address issues in their water plans which continue to leave open the possibility of environmental water, paid for by the Australian taxpayer, being pumped directly back into irrigation dams.

Labor is also concerned about the lack of clarity around the impact on the health of environmental sites such as the Culgoa Floodplain and Wetlands, Barwon-Darling Floodplain, Narran Lakes and Gwydir Wetlands.

Labor acknowledges the commitments made to date, particularly the public statements by the New South Wales government as well as actions taken to begin to address these issues but while these serious gaps remain Labor cannot support the instrument in its current form. However, Labor wants to work constructively with Government and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to deliver a genuine future outcome.

Labor urges the Minister for Water to update the work that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has already carried out in good faith, to provide better information and analysis in the following areas to restore public confidence in the Northern Basin review and instrument:

  •  The need for taxpayer funded environmental water to be used for environmental purposes
  •  A comprehensive response to allegations of corruption / water theft in the Northern Basin
  •  Indigenous consultation and engagement in water planning / governance
  •  The accuracy of data and modelling assumptions.

TUESDAY, 06 FEBRUARY 2018           

Tony Burke