The Greens remain opposed to the federal government’s revised Murray Darling Basin Plan, which is being introduced into federal parliament today.
- The government needs the support of the Greens to pass its revision to the plan
- The Greens have expressed concerns about the three-year extension of water-saving deadlines
- The party wants more water to be returned to the environment sooner
The government recently announced a revision of the $13 billion plan, which was first agreed to during the Gillard government.
The review would see critical water-saving deadlines pushed out from 2024 to 2027.
Support from the Greens is likely to be crucial to the revised plan’s passage through parliament.
The party’s environment spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said good faith negotiations with the government were continuing, but the legislation in its current form did not include sufficient guarantees.
“There’s no requirement that that 450 gigalitres that was previously promised to South Australia for the health of the river will actually be delivered,” she said.
Senator Hanson-Young reiterated the party’s criticism of the three-year extension of the plan.
“We want to see a guarantee that the 450 gigalitres will be delivered, and it can’t just be at a minute to midnight on the eve of December 31, 2027.
“We need to see water flowing as soon as possible.”
Government offers ‘rescue’ plan
Water Minister Tanya Plibersek said she was hopeful the bill would pass.
“We have got things here that both the Nationals and Liberals have been calling for and the Greens have been calling for,” Ms Plibersek said.
“What this plan offers is a rescue of the Murray Darling Basin Plan with more time, more funding, more options, and more accountability.”
The minister said the revised plan was “the only way” to meet crucial water-saving targets.
“The way we achieve that 450 gigalitres is to remove the impediments that had been put in by the previous government,” she said.
The revised plan also brings back the option of water buybacks, which the coalition and farmers’ groups have strenuously opposed.
But Ms Plibersek said it would take time to know just how much water would have to be bought back.
“We need to give proper time and opportunity for the water efficiency projects that are currently being built by the states, we need to finally realise how many gigalitres of water those projects are going to achieve,” she said.
All state and territory governments in the basin have signed on to the revised plan, except Victoria which opposes water buybacks.
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