Murray-Darling Basin Plan 2018

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:44): I rise to talk today about what I think is an historic agreement between the federal government and the federal opposition in regard to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

In recent months, in the federal parliament we have seen disallowance motions moved, and all I could see in these motions was a downside for the plan. We have seen the Greens get far too overexcited about the fact that 390 gigalitres was designated initially as water allowed down through the Darling system under the plan, and that was to be reduced to 320 gigalitres after much science and much work was done over time, since 2012, when the plan was first brought into being.

I must say that a lot of work has been done on all sides of politics with respect to this, but certainly at the federal level I will acknowledge the Hon. Tony Burke from the Labor Party. I would suggest he would have done a lot of work to get his Labor colleagues over the line not to support these disallowance motions that would have put so much risk into this basin plan and caused so much carnage at this end of the river, the bottom end of the river, which is the absolute lifeblood of this state.

What we saw was people saying, 'Oh, if this 70 gigalitres come out, that just destroys all the environmental outcomes'. Well, I have got news for them. What would have happened if New South Wales and Victoria had pulled out of this plan? We would have lost 1,090 gigalitres of water. To put that into context, think of Sydney Harbour and double it. That is that amount of water. They were quite happy to push that along, that pretence. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed in Canberra, and we will see the basin plan delivered in full and on time because of the work of minister David Littleproud, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, and Senator Anne Ruston, from South Australia, the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.

The points that I have been making include the simple fact that the government has reached an agreement with the Labor Party to deliver the basin plan on time and in full, and this includes the sustainable diversion limit adjustment and the northern basin review. This will finally deliver certainty to the two million Australians who live in the Murray-Darling Basin, their communities, the farmers and the environment. These people are fatigued after six years of not knowing how much water and wealth would be in their communities and of being unable to invest in their communities and businesses as a result.

This deal will see the sustainable diversion limit adjustment recommended by the independent Murray-Darling Basin Authority delivered—605 gigalitres fully delivered. It will also see work begin on the 450 gigalitres, which of course requires zero social or economic harm. The federal Liberal coalition with the Nationals was pleased to deliver greater compliance and transparency as part of the plan. They have already delivered almost all the water required to be recovered under the plan by June 2019.

The federal government is now getting on with the job of delivering the commitments made, including working with basin states to deliver the outcomes of the sustainable diversion limit adjustment and northern basin review. More importantly, communities in the basin can now move forward with certainty.

Certainly, over the time that the plan has been in place we have seen a lot of water brought out throughout the basin, but we note that in South Australia that was not possible because of the efficiencies that have been in place throughout South Australia since the 1960s and moving forward. And there have still been efficiencies put in place: I have seen great work done with lining the very narrow channels in the flats around Murray Bridge and the great work in the savings of water that can be done there.

On all my visits—and I have talked about it many times in this place—whether to the northern basin, the Darling waters or to the southern basin, involving the Murrumbidgee—there is so much opportunity for infrastructure works to put more water back into the system. And guess what? That will assist the environment.

Some people do not think that will happen, but there will be compliance. There will be transparency measures, as there already have been. Yes, we have seen some disgusting scenes involving allegations in New South Wales, but there is going to be a northern basin commissioner, and there is going to be so much work done throughout the states, through the commonwealth government and through everyone connected with the Murray-Darling Basin plan to get this plan in full. Thankfully, at the federal level we have seen both major parties—should I say all major parties—involved in this process getting on board, and it will happen. That can only be a good thing for South Australia.