Basin back from the brink

By Riverine Herald

STAKEHOLDERS say a return to political common sense has pulled the Murray-Darling Basin Plan back from the brink of total failure and abandonment.

Murray Irrigation Deniliquin-based chief executive Michael Renehan congratulated the government and Federal Opposition on reaching an agreement to return a bipartisan position on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

‘‘Their agreement to put the plan before politics means that the Basin Plan Authority and river communities have certainty,’’ Mr Renehan said.

‘‘We can now resume our collaboration with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and WaterNSW in operating an efficient system.’’

Murray Darling Association national president David Thurley said it was a good outcome for the environment and basin communities.

‘‘We can now look forward to building on early positive environmental outcomes and continue to drive greater efficiencies in water use to ensure sustainable agricultural productivity,’’ Cr Thurley said.

‘‘Our communities, our industries and our agencies managing the implementation processes and the delivery of environmental water all need certainty. We need certainty of the plan and we need confidence in the process.”

The agreement means the 605Gl sustainable diversion limit adjustment amendment will pass Parliament.

According to Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s website, the plan sets sustainable diversion limits — how much water can be used in the Murray-Darling Basin, while leaving enough water for the environment.

Labor have also agreed to support the 70Gl reduction in Northern Basin SDLs.

Other commitments include a renewed commitment to recovery of the 450Gl with zero negative social and economic impacts, increased transparency and oversight in the delivery of the 605GL SDL adjustment projects; additional compliance initiatives with payments to basin states tied to implementation of basin compliance compact commitments; and $80 million in funding to support structural adjustment programs for communities impacted by the basin plan and to improve basin plan outcomes for indigenous communities.