Victoria Minister for Water Peter Walsh
Victoria Releases Submission To Murray-Darling Basin Plan
Victor P Taffa
The Baillieu-Ryan Government has called on the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to urgently revisit its entire planning process to achieve the right balance and positive results for food producers, communities and the environment.
Minister for Water Peter Walsh has formally advised the MDBA that the Coalition Government does not support the Guide to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in its current form.
Releasing Victoria’s submission to the Guide to the Basin Plan today, Mr. Walsh said the MBDA needed to move quickly to rebuild community and business confidence.
“The Basin Plan must have at its heart a vision to secure the interests of the whole Basin, and seek to balance the social and economic needs of its communities with those of the environment.” Mr. Walsh wrote last month to the MBDA’s Former Chair Mike Taylor.
“The Victorian Government believes the social and economic impacts of the guide are not yet properly understood.” Mr. Walsh said.
“It is absolutely vital that the findings of the two Commonwealth Parliamentary inquiries into these matters are fully considered before the proposed Basin plan is released for public consultation.”
Mr. Walsh said with enough water to meet the environment’s needs for at least two years, the authority had more time to get the plan right.
“An effective Basin Plan will include environmental engineering works and infrastructure investment to get measurable water savings for the environment, rather than drastic cuts in water entitlements held by food producers.” Mr. Walsh said.
“It involves rebuilding relationships so that regional communities enraged by a divisive process after the guide’s release can contribute local solutions for their valleys.” Mr. Walsh said.
Mr. Walsh said a new process would:
- Be based on an agreed vision for the Basin;
- Support agreed environmental, social and economic outcomes;
- Be informed by comprehensive evidence and analysis;
- Be developed through open and informed community-based decision making;
- Provide smart and efficient solutions for the environment and consumptive water users, not just more water for the environment;
- Support communities through change;
- Set out clear implementation pathways and clearly defined roles and responsibilities;
- Maintain business and community confidence;
- Use a management approach that builds on existing knowledge, compacts and programs, including the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement, Living Murray Initiative, Water for Rivers and other relevant COAG commitments and agreements.
“A New Process will take some extra time to complete, but we need to heal the community angst that has been created.” Mr. Walsh said.
Mr. Walsh said the Commonwealth Government’s water buyback program must be aligned with money to be invested in modernising irrigation systems, and the billions of dollars committed to irrigation infrastructure needed to be used effectively.
Victoria’s submission asks the MDBA and the Commonwealth Government to revise the timing for drafting the Basin Plan, engage with Basin communities and involve Basin Governments in developing a comprehensive plan for a better Basin.