Australian Greens senator Janet Rice and Victorian Greens candidate for Northern Victoria, Nicole Rowan, this week visited Swan Hill to discuss Murray River health and the Murray Darling Basin Plan with local farmers, indigenous people and community members.
The Greens are concerned that the federal government’s plan to rip 605 gigalitres from the southern MDB environmental flows will put even more pressure on the river and the communities that rely on it.
“We have a river system that’s in crisis, but the government is turning a blind eye. The Murray and the Victorian communities that rely on it are at a tipping point. There are no jobs, no businesses, and no thriving communities on a dead river, and that’s where it’s heading,” said Senator Rice.
“The government is trying to convince the Senate that untested water efficiency projects will somehow offset ripping 605 gigalitres of environmental water from the river. At the same time, the government is refusing to make details of these water efficiency projects public.”
“Why should anyone trust the government on this, when they’ve have overseen water theft, meter tampering and special treatment from the Nationals to their big corporate irrigator mates?”
“Past history demonstrates we need as much transparency and scrutiny as possible, and together with the crossbench, we have called on the government to conduct an independent audit into the MDBP.”
“Unless we can be sure that environmental water bought by the taxpayer hasn’t ended up in the water stores of big irrigators, then we cannot allow permanent changes to the Plan to be made. That’s a gamble the Greens are not prepared to take.”
“The Greens are determined to block the government’s plans to rip more environmental water from the river in the Senate on May 8, and we hope that Labor joins us.”
“If the government wants to ensure a real, sustainable future for the entire Basin and the communities that rely on it, they must allow for more environmental flows and prevent the unchecked rorting of the system.”
Senator Rice and Ms Rowan met with local Swan Hill stone fruit farmer Peta Thornton on Friday.
“We as irrigators and beneficiaries of the river’s wealth have a responsibility to ensure our take is measured and responsible and that it is sustainable,” said Ms Thornton.
“In the next fortnight the Federal Senate will vote on whether to reduce actual water recovered for our rivers in favour of other projects which deliver so called ‘equivalent’ environmental outcomes. We shouldn’t trade off more environmental water for efficiency projects that have not been rigorously tested.”
“It’s time to put the brakes on the Plan until NSW and QLD get their metering and compliance up to speed, and let’s get that Federal Royal Commission underway. There is too much at stake.”