New inquiry into Murray Darling Basin Plan – Media Release
Family First Senator for South Australia Senator Bob Day moved and passed a motion to establish an inquiry into the Murray Darling Basin (terms of reference given below). The motion was co-sponsored by 6 crossbenchers, and passed with the support of all 8 crossbenchers and the Coalition government. Labor* and the Greens opposed the motion.
“Many crossbenchers supported an inquiry into the progress on the Murray Darling Basin inquiry. My constituents in the South Australian River Murray are keen to ensure that South Australia is not sidelined and is recognised for the significant irrigation efficiencies and steps we have taken to be water efficient,” Senator Day said.
“There will soon be a Bill we need to vote on capping Basin-wide water buyback from farmers at 1500 gigalitres, which Family First supports. Further, the Exit Grant program decimated South Australian river communities, and the 5-year ban on irrigators farming those blocks has almost ended. So I want to bring a basin-wide focus on how those exit grant blocks and in turn SA River Murray irrigation communities can get back up and running again. There is also a state-federal stand-off about a $25 million funding package for 21 SA River Murray community projects, which I will also be bringing before the inquiry.”
Senators Day (SA), Madigan (Vic) and Leyonhjelm (NSW) will represent the crossbench on the inquiry, Senator Day saying: “No inquiry should occur without a strong South Australian voice on it. I thank my crossbench colleagues for their support in establishing this inquiry.”
Terms of Reference
That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan be established to inquire into and report, on or before 26 February 2016, on the positive and negative impacts of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and associated Commonwealth programs on regional communities, with particular reference to:
(a) the implementation of the plan, including:
(i) its progress,
(ii) its costs, especially those related to further implementation,
(iii) its direct and indirect effects on agricultural industries, local businesses and community wellbeing, and
(iv) any evidence of environmental changes to date;
(b) the effectiveness and appropriateness of the plan‘s Constraints Management Strategy, including:
(i) the progress of identifying constraints and options to mitigate the identified risks, and
(ii) environmental water flows and river channel capacity;
(c) the management of the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray mouth, including the environmental impact of the locks, weirs and barrages of the Murray River; and
(d) any related matter.
* The Labor Party indicated after the vote they intended to vote for the motion, but failed to do so when the division was called.