DISTRESSED farmers in southern NSW are turning up their anger on Labor and crossbenchers in federal parliament for a move which could intensify the water crisis rural communities are already enduring.
Labor, with the backing of crossbenchers except Indi MP Cathy McGowan, won the final vote of the current parliament for the federal government to lift the 1500GL cap on water buybacks to guarantee the environmental health of the Murray Darling Basin.
Thanks to all our regional media outlets that kept up the pressure to ensure this meeting went ahead. We are very grateful for the active engagement we received from the PM, who showed genuine concern and a willingness to better understand the issues. https://t.co/7NDsKHlT5x— Speak Up (@Speakup4water) April 5, 2019
Farmer lobby group, Speak Up, chairwoman Shelley Scoullar said Labor and crossbenchers who supported the non-binding vote spearheaded by shadow environment and water minister Tony Burke were guilty of political opportunism.
"People are scared of losing their seats because I doubt (Mr Burke) would have got it up at any other time in parliament sitting," she said.
"It just shows there are too many people in parliament who don't understand how the river operates.
"Fair enough if they don't care about the economic and social impacts, but they should at least care about the negative environmental impacts of their decision.
"My hope now is the states pull out of the plan."
The crossbenchers to vote with Labor were Kerryn Phelps, Rebekha Sharkie, Adam Bandt, Andrew Wilkie and Julia Banks with Bob Katter absent.
The Border Mail attempted to seek comment from Ms McGowan, but was told it was "not possible".
Farrer Labor candidate Kieran Drabsch said the only water licences Labor were interested in purchasing were from voluntary sellers.
"I've made it very clear to my own party a voluntary seller can't be a distressed seller," he said.
"We can't just allow someone to throw away their greatest asset and we need to protect farmers in times of drought.
"Labor is committed to using all mechanisms available to deliver the water savings and environmental flows of the Murray Darling Basin in the same way this current government is."
Farrer independent candidate Kevin Mack said Labor's plans were dire for farming communities already straining from zero water allocations, but understood the strategy of a majority of crossbenchers.
He said the Coalition government had reacted too slowly to fix water issues.
Mr Mack said: "What these independents are seeing is this government is not going to be there after the election so why should we be doing deals with them.
"The government has had six years to do something and it is why the rally on Tuesday becomes even more important.
"The rally is not for Sussan Ley. The rally is for Tony Burke. If Farrer fails, Albury fails also.
Basin Plan:— Sussan Ley (@sussanley) April 4, 2019
On this the last day of the 45th Parliament, Independents sided with Labor to back a motion to scrap the cap on buyback and scrap the socio economic test for extra water recovery.
The motion passed.
This is a glimpse of the future without the Liberals and Nationals pic.twitter.com/mRiP3JCTHK
"It will be a catastrophic result for farming and agriculture."
Ms Ley said she was stunned by Labor's move late on Thursday.
"When Mr Mack announced he was putting himself up for this election I warned that a vote for an independent will make it more likely that Australia will have a Bill Shorten-led government," she said.
"The disgraceful water politics played by Labor, Greens and most of the crossbench on Thursday should scare anyone who really cares about agriculture in the basin.
"it certainly scared me."