21 April 2022
Independent Senator for South Australia Rex Patrick has called out key players on the Liberal Nationals side of politics as Murray Darling Basin terrorists, keen to blow up the plan.
"Comments by two senior Federal Ministers and the newly minted South Australian Opposition Leader show why the Liberal National Coalition can't be trusted on delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan," Senator Patrick said.
"The Nationals in Prime Minister Morrison's Government are nothing more than water policy terrorists, prepared to blow up the Plan to advance the interests of their big irrigator supporters in Queensland and New South Wales. South Australian voters should be aware of this as they cast their ballot in the Federal Election."
When the plans to save the Murray -Darling and Australia's food bowl were first conceived, scientists at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority determined that between 3900 and 7600 GLs needed to be returned to the river.
That number got politically manipulated down by the Nationals to only 2750 GL. SA fought back and refused to sign up to the Plan unless a further 450 GL of 'efficiency water' was returned to the Lower Lakes, the Coorong and Murray Mouth.
Since the Plan was agreed in 2012, and with only two years to go to completion, the Government has only delivered 2 GL of the 450 GL owed to SA.
Senator Patrick said: "Minister Littleproud and Pitt are both being disingenuous and dishonest when they say they want to deliver the plan in full," said Senator Patrick. "They know that, under the Plan, there are no consequences to not delivering the 450 and have happily sat on their hands doing nothing to fulfil the 'efficiency water' part of the plan."
"Ever mindful of interests that back the National Party in the Northern Basin, there's no doubt that they regard any drop of water that passes a big irrigator's property as a wasted drop of water."
"And that new SA Liberal leader David Speirs thinks that progress to date is good and that the Federal Liberal-National Party will deliver the Plan in full just shows he's a complete political dolt."
"Because of the failings of the Liberal-National Coalition to make any inroads into delivering then 450, the Labor Party is right to call for water buy-backs from willing sellers. It's the most efficient way to recover water for the environment and we have reached a point in time where it has become necessary to do so."
"Whilst the Coalition argues that water buy-back are not permissible under the plan because the 450 GL can only be recovered if environmental, social and economic needs can all be prioritised equally, SA Royal Commissioner, eminent NSW barrister Brett Walker SC, found that this concept was a myth. It is a legally erroneous view."
"Whilst I support the sentiment of the Federal Labor Party's recent river announcements, their new stance must be taken with a degree of scepticism. Prior to the March 2018 SA State election the Labor Party voted down a proposal in the Senate to give 70 GL back to Northern Basin irrigators, but then flipped after the election when the Coalition Government bought the 70 GL gift back to the Senate for a second vote."
"Sadly the Federal Labor Party, like the Liberal-National Coalition, will always be inclined to favour the water interests of the larger eastern states. SA Labor is always conflicted in their loyalties because they are part of a party dominated by the political and economic interests of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria."
"As an independent Senator for South Australia, I have a single focus - the interests of our State."
"Murray Darling water is absolutely vital for South Australia. Whether the next Government is Labor or Liberal, I'm committed to keeping the bastards honest to deliver on the Plan."