What now for Basin Plan after `careless’ Green sabotage?

What now for Basin Plan ask worried SA dairy farmers


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Labor and the Greens, with their intransigence, have undermined jobs and the future of many regional South Australians in one motion.

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The last week has been filled with commentary and vitriol regarding the Murray Darling Basin Plan and its fate. 

South Australia’s dairy farmers represent the last productive users of Murray River water before it heads into the Coorong coastal wetland and out to sea.

The water is important environmentally as it passes the lower lakes dairy farms, but in many ways these dairy businesses are the canaries for the river.

If there is a problem, our farmers are the first to wear it, and the future of the river is always in sharp focus for dairy producers.

For this reason, the political maneuvering displayed in the Senate, particularly this week, had greatly troubled us.

The behaviour is indicative of an intemperate political carelessness that just demonstrates how reckless some politicians are prepared to be with regional communities in SA and the people who work in those regions.

We have seen an escalation in brinkmanship from all parties that has now entered the domain of stupid. - John Hunt, South Australian Dairyfarmers

The Murray Darling Basin Plan was written in 2012 to allow adaptive management, with enough flexibility to utilise new knowledge and to adjust operational management of our rivers to get better ecological outcomes while providing a level of certainty for the river and river communities. 

While not everyone in the Basin likes the Plan, everyone has been working towards achieving it and delivering a balanced plan.

Neither NSW or Victoria have to be bound to the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

The plan has secured water for the Murray River and those who live and work along it all the way to the mouth.

We’re exasperated.

The comments by NSW Water Minister Niall Blair that the ongoing participation in the plan is untenable is an awful response which we dreaded would result from the Greens’ ill-considered motion.

We have seen an escalation in brinkmanship from all parties that has now entered the domain of stupid.

Labor and the Greens with their intransigence have undermined jobs and the future of many regional South Australians in one motion.

Little, if anything, legally binds NSW or Victoria to the plan. It will be to their advantage to abandon it and the Greens have given them the trigger to walk.

It is simply time for everyone playing games to stop, get back to the table and sort this mess out.

Otherwise, the losers will be SA dairy farmers and the Coorong itself.

  • John Hunt is president of South Australian Dairyfarmers 
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