Furious Victorian and NSW water ministers could be poised to pull their states out of the Murray Darling Basin Plan after federal government changes seeking to distribute water differently were shot down in the Senate.
The coalition was unable to strike a deal with Labor, which supported a Greens disallowance motion in the Senate last night with it passing 32 votes to 30.
.NSW Water Minister Niall Blair said the plan, which delivers healthy rivers and viable regional communities, had been thrown on the scrap heap in a "race for votes in South Australia"."This move makes the basin plan untenable for NSW," he said.His Victorian counterpart Lisa Neville has also flagged intentions to walk away."(It) is a slap in the face to communities and a slap in the face to the environment," she said."We want the commonwealth to investigate all options to overturn this decision. If that is not possible the plan cannot be delivered."The federal government was attempting to reduce the amount of water being returned to the environment in southern Queensland and northern NSW, easing pressure on farmers in those regions.
Farmers are also upset with the Labor and Greens for pushing through the disallowance motion.
The Labor Party and the Greens have all but guaranteed the Basin Plan will not deliver outcomes for environmental health according to Southern Riverina Irrigators.
“Labor Senator Penny Wong admitted the Basin Plan is now at risk and blamed Malcolm Turnbull for handing the water portfolio to the Nationals,” SRI Chair Gabrielle Coupland said.
“But the amendment is the result of a clause in the Basin Plan written in there by Labor’s Tony Burke and follows years of scientific review and community consultation.
“By taking this action today, the Senate has decided they know better than the experts and have put at risk environmental outcomes, jobs and industries. “The only people to blame are the Greens and the Labor Party. “Every issue they have raised can be addressed, and processes are in place to do so. They have no justifiable reason not to support the recommendation of the MDBA - an independent authority.”