Divisive basin plan in danger of collapse

February 15, 2018

No common ground: the Murray-Darling Basin Plan continues to divide political opinion.

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is continuing to divide political opinion and is in danger of collapse, according to Murray-Darling Basin Authority boss Phillip Glyde.

My Glyde said if the plan was to collapse, ‘‘it would undermine the food bowl of the nation and undermine Australia having a sustainable basin plan that is environmentally sound’’.

The political unrest rose and the fragility of the plan was exposed last Tuesday when the Federal Opposition announced it would support the Greens’ bid to block a 70Gl cut in the amount of water being returned to the environment in the northern basin.

The Victorian and NSW governments have threatened to walk away from the plan because Labor has called for a review into the northern part of the basin, believing it flies in the face of the extensive work they have done with relevant communities to engage them with important discussions.

They believe it would be unfair to put those people through a similar process again.

Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum said he was disappointed but not surprised about Labor’s decision.

‘‘The Labor party has shown their true colours by all of a sudden opposing the reallocation and correction of 70Gl in relation to the northern basin review, which they introduced into the Act,’’ Mr Drum said.

‘‘If Labor and the Greens wreck the plan, Victoria is forced to recover more water and the social and economic safeguard disappears.’’

These simmering political wars follow a recent declaration by 12 academics, including economists and water scientists, that the plan is not working and urged fundamental changes be made to the way the system is administered.

They have called for an independent audit into all water recovery measures across the basin.

The MDBA and the Federal Government have rejected these claims, saying the plan was never going to deliver immediate results.

According to the group of researchers, $6billion dollars has already been spent on water recovery projects across the basin, including $4million to subsidise irrigation.

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