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Senate committee calls for an extra 450Gl

Victorian Farmers Federation Water Council chairman Richard Anderson has accused the Federal Government of ignoring 2.2 million Murray-Darling Basin residents.

TRENT HORNEMAN November 21, 2012 4:59am

A senate committee has called for the Federal Government to add 450 gigalitre of environmental water for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committees recommended a 3200Gl environmental allocation to be locked in.

The Victorian Government and Victorian Farmers Federation supported a 2750Gl environmental allocation.

A Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council agreed in July to a 2750Gl environmental flow.

Federal Water Minister Tony Bourke said nothing had changed with the basin plan.

‘‘The Gillard Labor Government is committed to reform for the Murray-Darling Basin that restores our rivers to health, ensures strong regional communities and sustainable food production,’’ he said.

‘‘The authority has been recommending a 2750Gl plan. Nothing has changed.

‘‘There has always been agreement and indeed fulsome support from the Victorian Farmers Federation that there should be a mechanism that allows the volume of held water to go down if environmental works and measures could be used to bridge the gap and would only allow additional water to be acquired if it was through infrastructure projects.’’

Victorian Farmers Federation Water Council chairman Richard Anderson has accused the Federal Government of ignoring 2.2million Murray-Darling Basin residents.

Last month, Mr Anderson and Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh voiced their concerns with a 3200Gl allocation because it would flood properties along the Goulburn-Murray system.

‘‘We can’t afford any last minute changes to the plan, just as its due to be tabled in Parliament,’’ Mr Anderson said.

‘‘It’s evident Water Minister Tony Burke and his Senate colleagues are trying to shift the goal posts at the end of a five-year game to develop the plan.

‘‘Tony Burke has introduced last minute amendments to the Water Act that will ultimately deliver a 3200Gl plan, despite telling us and the basin state governments 2750Gl was the number.

‘‘Labor’s attempt to lock $1.5 billion of spending on another 450Gl of water into the plan is a slap in the face for all irrigators and the 2.2 million people of the basin that rely on them.

‘‘This is not what our communities were consulted upon. Irrigators participated in the negotiations around the Basin Plan in good faith, only to have government come along at the last minute and make substantial changes to the outcomes of the plan.”

‘‘If the recommended amendments to the Act are passed, it will condemn communities to an indeterminate recovery of water and an uncertain future.’’

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