Breakthrough on Murray plan
The Nick Xenophon Team has mentored an agreement that provides greater surety for the delivery of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and more certainty for the Lower Lakes, according local NXT MP Rebekha Sharkie.
“After extensive negotiations with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and SA Labor Premier Jay Weatherill over many days we were able to announce today that there will be a much stronger, more robust process for delivering the mechanisms of the plan and the 2013 Intergovernmental Agreement between the basin States and the Commonwealth,” Ms Sharkie said.
“That is good news for my community which has been rattled by recent reports that a key element of managing the basin into the future – finding an additional 450GL for environmental flows through efficiencies - might not happen because it could cause adverse social or economic effects on upstream basin communities.
“As the Member for Mayo, representing the communities at the very end of the system, those still recovering from the social and economic impacts of the drought 10 years ago, that was hard to bear.
“More than anything else it was the uncertainty it caused in my community and the negative message it sent to visitors and investors.
“I and my NXT colleagues believe these stronger implementation measures elevate the plan to the Prime Minister’s responsibility, putting the basin in the minds of the nation’s leaders twice a year and making sure the Australian people have avenues to thoroughly scrutinise how the plan is actually being delivered.
“This is a first, and while we have a long way to go, this is good news for the people of Mayo and indeed everyone who lives and works and plays along the river system.”
Ms Sharkie said she and her NXT colleagues were not prepared to see South Australia sold down the river.
“This is about accountability, transparency and wider government oversight,” she said.
The agreement facilitated with the Prime Minister means the basin plan is now on the agenda of the biannual meetings of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
COAG is the nation’s peak intergovernmental forum and is made up of the Prime Minister, State and Territory Premiers and Chief Ministers and the president of the Australian Local Government Association.
The NXT agreement also means that twice a year Senate Estimates will be able to hold special hearings across all government portfolios to question the agencies responsible for implementing the plan.
“This gives the best level of security for SA that the spirit of the agreement will be honoured with respect to environmental flows and equity across the basin,” Ms Sharkie said.
“By placing the basin plan with COAG, with Senate scrutiny twice a year – which is unprecedented – it will give us effective ability to monitor the implementation of the plan and ensure the long-term sustainability of the system.
“We will never give up on the river.”