13 February 2018

 

Don’t game the river system for votes

The Federal Greens’ move to block a crucial component of the Basin Plan from passing through Parliament is a blow to the environment as well as farmers.

“Senator Hanson-Young’s move to disallow the 605 Giga Litre (GL) adjustment to the Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDL) is putting South Australian votes before the environment,” said VFF Water Council Chair Richard Anderson.

Supporters of the environment would understand that the health of the river is not just determined by the volume of water that flows, but also increasing wildlife habitat and the effectiveness of delivering environmental water.

There is funding in place to see 37 environmental programs commence, but if the Greens block the adjustment mechanism now, those funds are lost.

“The Greens are saying no to money for the environment,” said Mr. Anderson, “no to environmental projects, and they are saying no to Australia’s food bowl. All because the perception of some South Australians is that the only way to evaluate the health of the river is to measure the amount of fresh water flowing out of the Murray Mouth.”

The 37 fully funded programs that sit behind the 605 GL adjustment were rigorously and scientifically tested by the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA). The VFF has confidence in the authority’s determination that these projects do achieve equivalent environmental outcomes.

“The other thing to remember is that when we get to a year with low seasonal determinations, where there is less water for everyone, these projects enhance environmental outcomes,” Richard Anderson said. “We will have years of low flow in the future, so if you were for the environment you would want money spent on these projects now to make the river more resilient.”

Ultimately the adjustments are explicitly designed to achieve environmental outcomes for the river system, whilst also allowing farmers to continue their current production.

Victorian State Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, understands the need to continue with the Basin Plan as intended, and we applaud her on her strong stance on this issue.

“We stand by the Basin Plan as it was originally agreed to in 2012. The adjustment mechanism is an important part of that plan, and one too important for politicking.”

 

Media Contacts:

Richard Anderson, VFF Water Council, 0428 832 210

Sarah Martin, VFF Media Community Officer, 0409 739 121