MEDIA RELEASE: DELAYING THE BASIN PLAN PUTS OUR RIVERS AT RISK

TONY BURKE MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURAL AUSTRALIA
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS
MEMBER FOR WATSON

 
DELAYING THE BASIN PLAN PUTS OUR RIVERS AT RISK
 

The Government’s failure to use available funding to implement the Basin Plan puts our rivers at risk. You can’t fix the rivers without water and the day Barnaby Joyce arrived, the water stopped.

Of the $580 million set aside to deliver water for the environment from the Special Account, only $12.5 million has been spent.   

When Labor put the Basin Plan in place we secured an additional $1.775 billion for constraints removal and the additional 450GL of water for the environment. Labor’s legislation made sure the funding was steadily transferred in to the Special Account (Water for the Environment) according to the legislated schedule:

Image source: Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Act 2013 < https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2013A00003/Html/Text >

Image source: Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Act 2013 <https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2013A00003/Html/Text>

Senate Estimates on Friday revealed that the Government has walked away from the 450GL of water for the environment, they haven’t run programs and have left the funding available almost untouched.  

1st OFFICIAL: The Water for the Environment Special Account, Senator?
2nd OFFICIAL: Over the period to, or from 2012 through to 30 June 2024 – that was $1.775 billion.
SENATOR O’NEIL: How much has been spent?
2nd OFFICIAL: A vast minority of it. Probably less than 10… or in the order of $10 million.

We can’t let the ecological catastrophe in the north spread throughout the entire Basin.

Claims by the government that the funds couldn’t previously be used are untrue. There is a test in the Basin Plan already to run on-farm projects to deliver the 450GL of water for the environment – the test is participation. The government hasn’t tested participation because it hasn’t made any fudning available.

For the last six years the Government has taken any opportunity to delay or obstruct the implementation of the Basin Plan.

After six years in office the government says it is now taking steps to acquire more water for the environment. The rivers are paying for this inaction right now.

Delays are hurting our rivers – urgent action is required.

SUNDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2019

Tony Burke