The Albanese Government announcement that it will purchase water in six catchments across Queensland and New South Wales is further evidence of the reversal of Federal Government’s water policy since the election says Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP.
“The former Coalition Government made great progress in our term of Government putting people back at the centre of the Murray Darling Basin Plan– stopping buybacks, empowering local people to improve their stretch of river and boosting the economic outlook of their towns and businesses,” Mr Pasin said.
“Unfortunately, Labor has reversed this approach and has begun implementing their policy of buying back water from productive use to meet environmental targets under the Basin Plan.”
The Murray Darling Basin is home to 2.6 million people who rely on the river to generate economic activity providing local jobs, producing about 40 per cent of Australia’s food and fibre and generating $22 billion of agricultural output each year multiplying to around $80 billion up and down the supply chain.
“This water is vital for basin communities, their local economies and our national food security. By taking this water out of productive use the Labor Government is destroying jobs in our regions, and adding to cost of living pressures for all Australian’s with the price of fresh food to go up inevitably,” Mr Pasin said.
“Less water available for production means higher prices for what water remains on the market and lower production means higher prices in the shops. It’s basic economics that the South Australian and Federal Water Minister’s don’t seem to understand.”
“To put it simply, the water buyback policy is essentially a tax on the fruit, nuts, wine grapes, vegetables, rice, cotton, dairy and sugar grown in the basin,” Mr Pasin said.
The former Coalition Government vowed never to use buy backs to recover environmental water, investing in initiatives to improve water use efficiency and deliver environmental outcomes for the basin with infrastructure projects.
“We know there are other ways to recover water for the environment. Our primary producers are some of the most innovative in the world. We have seen firsthand water being recovered for the environment through efficiencies and increased infrastructure.”
“People living in the Riverland should be very concerned. Make no mistake, Labor is coming for our water. The additional 450gig from the Southern Basin, if recovered, could lead to more than $500 million in lost agricultural production each year.”
“It is imperative to remember that the additional 450gig proposal was contingent on there being no negative social or economic impacts on communities. We cannot simply ignore the neutrality test that is built into the Plan,” Mr Pasin said.
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