For the sake of six years don’t pull the plug

Disallowance will set Basin Plan back six years


Opinion
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Labor and the cross-bench need to give the Southern Basin offsets project a go.

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The Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young is on a mission to destroy the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in a my way or the highway type crusade.

She’s been at this for years and unfortunately Labor buckled to her campaign on the disallowance motion for the Northern Basin amendment leading into the South Australian state election.

That vote to block the northern amendment has potentially put 70 gigalitres of northern water back on the table for buybacks.

On May 8, Federal Parliament will vote on a disallowance motion, which if successful, will block the infrastructure offset projects for the Southern Basin.

So 37 infrastructure projects hang in the balance which would otherwise aid the delivery of environmental flows, while also avoiding the need to buyback a further 605GL of water from southern irrigators.

Labor’s move to back the northern disallowance motion hasn’t helped it politically, and politics has been behind 99 per cent of the problems with progress on the plan.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority has approved the proposed offset projects, and the plan has a built-in safety mechanism for the environment, yet the Greens are still hell bent on under undermining it.

In six years time, the progress of the water delivery infrastructure and how it helps meet environmental goals will be reviewed.

If shown it hasn’t worked, the water buyback option will be back on the table anyway.

The Greens, who’s only real policy on all this seems to be to throw everybody else into disarray for the sake of it, are risking winding back Basin Plan progress by six years to when the federal government was battling to get the states to sign up to the plan by threatening unilateral action.

The progress has been gradual, but the past six years since the states signed on have gone pretty quick and a lot has been achieved in that time. 

The issues in the river basin took many years to create, and will also take many years to fix.

So a little patience on Labor’s part when it comes to the vote on May 8 is a plausible request. Especially given there is a safety net. 

Sarah Hanson-Young was there six years ago trying to bombshell all this, and no doubt she’ll still be there in six years time, so we’d be crazy not to give the measures a go. 

If they don’t work, the Greens can have another crack when the review rolls around. 

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