Littleproud ignites ‘water war’

February 15, 2018

Federal Water Minister David Littleproud is continuing his push for extra water for the Murray Darling Basin above the agreed 2750Gl.

Federal Water Minister David Littleproud is continuing his push for extra water for the Murray Darling Basin above the agreed 2750Gl.

Last week Mr Littleproud said the 450Gl of ‘‘up-water’’ and the 650Gl of ‘‘down-water’’ were tied together.

He said the nation was now facing a risk that if the 650Gl of water savings was not approved by Federal Parliament, then Victoria would have to find an extra 250Gl of water.

Mr Littleproud has also referred to the plan as a 3200Gl plan.

Irrigation communities have been reminding parliamentarians that the 450Gl, under the basin plan, can only be delivered if there is no negative impact on communities.

Water industry leader Peter Hall has accused Mr Littleproud of making a policy backflip on the basin.

‘‘Wasn’t it only 12 months ago that the previous water minister, Barnaby Joyce, endured a tirade of expletives for stating calmly and factually that the 450Gl of up-water could not possibly be delivered according to legislative requirements?’’ Mr Hall, from Mooroopna, said last week.

‘‘To great relief in irrigation communities along the Murray, he reaffirmed what we all know to be true — removing any more water from the consumptive pool cannot be achieved without harming communities who depend on this water for their lifeblood.

‘‘In only two months on the job, David Littleproud has breathtakingly reversed this position, injecting uncertainty and confusion into the issue that, whilst contentious, was settled by the previous minister. Its disingenuous for him to reduce the socio-economic test to that between a willing seller and a bucketful of public money.

‘‘It’s bewildering. We have Federal Labor hellbent on ramming through the 450Gl, a Nationals Federal Minister riding roughshod over regional community concerns and state Nationals completely silent. Ironically, at this stage Lisa Neville, State Labor Water Minister, seems to be a lone voice standing up for Victorian irrigators.

‘‘Our communities have never felt so abandoned by those who traditionally should see us as their heartland.

‘‘Minister Neville rightly appreciates the heavy lifting Victoria has done in contributing to agreed environmental flows and has put a halt on any further removal of water.

‘‘In reality, irrigators’ contribution to the MDBA plan is virtually complete. Real leadership would take on those like Ian Hunter and Tony Burke, who oppose the plan’s rules on the 450Gl up-water and want to see regional Victoria torched for a few South Australian seats.

‘‘I would ask Minister Littleproud to rethink his position, take on the legitimate concerns communities up and down the Murray share, or we will run the risk of starting a ‘‘water war’’ in the middle of an election year.’’

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