Statement on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan
7 May 2018
I'm extremely pleased to have reached agreement with Labor which means we'll deliver the entire Murray Darling Basin Plan, including the Northern Basin Review. I reached out across the aisle to seek bipartisanship and aimed to provide leadership on this issue from day one. We rarely achieve lasting results by going to war.
Labor and Tony Burke created the Plan and I'm delivering it as I promised to. In my short time as Minister I hope to have demonstrated that transparency, integrity and compliance are important to me. Given this, I'm rapt with adjustments which will now be made to the Plan.
Labor sought more clarity and firm assurances on a number of issues.
The Government has reiterated its commitment to the 450 gigalitres, with zero negative social and economic impacts, and the process of attaining it can now begin.
There will be annual meetings and technical workshops on the SDL, projects and constraints removal, giving transparency on the delivery of the projects.
Tony Burke pushed us on Indigenous issues and we responded with a package we believe delivers opportunity to Indigenous communities. The package also delivers $20 million to help economic adaptation in communities impacted by the Basin Plan.
This agreement finally provides certainty to the two million people who live in the Basin. People who are fatigued from the stress of not knowing how much water – the economic driver for most of these communities – will be in their district next year. Not knowing if farmers will make money and employ people next year; not knowing if their own families, farms and businesses will be hurt.
During this process I've always kept in my mind an agronomist who rolled his ute after working huge days because with the uncertainty of not knowing how much water his district would have, he'd chosen to do all the work himself rather than keeping an employee. This is the toll of uncertainty.
People and communities can finally move forward knowing government is at last starting to get out of their lives.