'A deal is a deal' on the river

17 Jul 2020

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie says she will fight any changes to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan that will water down “science-based” protections for the river system and the Lower Lakes community.

“Jobs down south are just as important as jobs up north,” the NXT MP said in a speech to Federal Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m more than happy to sit down with my parliamentary colleagues and have a mature conversation about the basin plan, as long as the Government keeps its word - based on the science.

“The public hysteria generated by this debate is extremely damaging to my community.”

Ms Sharkie was responding to an announcement by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority that it was considering cutting 70 billion litres from the historic 2012 agreement to recover 2750 billion litres of water from irrigators across the basin.

The target was part of the long-term plan to sustainably manage the system and the proposed cutback would be made in the north of the basin.

The authority said reducing the water recovery in the north from 390 billion litres to 320 litres would strike a sensible balance between economics and the environment and save 200 jobs.

Ms Sharkie said the Nick Xenophon Team was all about balance so the authority should consider the environmental, economic and social impacts at the other end of the system.

She said the Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth communities were still recovering from the full effects of the millennium drought a decade ago.

“Business leaders tell me economic activity, particularly tourism, is only about 60% on what it was before,” she said.

“Only last month a group of business leaders sought a meeting with me because they feared northern irrigators would start clawing back water.

“We need equity across the basin, but any changes are seen by my southern constituents as another nail in the coffin for the Coorong and the Lower Murray.

“The significant media attention around this ‘proposed amendment’ of less water flowing to the Murray Mouth is enough to put doubts in the minds of investors and visitors.”

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