Member for Farrer Sussan Ley will urge the NSW and Victorian governments to walk away from the Murray Darling Basin Plan rather than see her constituents suffer more water pain after Labor said it would support a Greens motion to reverse amendments which would save hundreds of regional jobs.
“I will do something that I never thought I would,” Ms Ley told parliament.
“I will call on the states to withdraw from the Basin Plan in spite of everything we’ve been through.
“Because I am not going to turn around to my communities and tell them that we are coming to get another 650GL of your water.
“I can’t do that, I won’t do that and I know that the water ministers and the agriculture ministers, and one is a Labor government, in both Victoria and NSW are seriously considering it.
“So while Labor plays political games here, have no doubt about the really shocking effect that those games are having in the real parts of rural Australia, parts that I wish my Labor colleagues would spend more time visiting.
“I’m here to looking after and represent those communities.”
The Darling, Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers all flow through the Farrer electorate.
Farrer incorporates large-scale irrigation areas producing rice, grapes, cotton, irrigated cereals, dairy, wool, fat lambs and cattle as well as citrus, horticulture and vegetables and was considered the nation’s premier food-bowl.
NSW colleague Austin Evans, whose state seat of Murray sits within Farrer, was on the same page.
“There's been discontent and disquiet about the plan for a long, long time but I think this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” he said.
“This review was written in the original legislation by Tony Burke and the Labor Party. A process was put in place, science was applied, community input was taken and now at the 11th hour Labor want to walk away from that process.
“This is the worst example of good faith that we’ve seen. It is just ridiculous. It has turned into pure politics.
“Why did we waste all those years on the process and spend all the money?
“I agree with the position that we should walk away … The states signed up because they agreed to work together.
“I’ve worked in this space for years and that’s how it works with irrigators and the environmental water holder.
“We work together to try to get the best outcome – But this is not cooperative.”