MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Simon Birmingham, Liberal Senator, and his Parliamentary brief is the Murray-Darling Basin. Simon Birmingham, good morning, Senator.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, Matthew, David, listeners.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: You’ve called it… you’ve said we’ve got the ‘double whammy’ here – not enough for the environment and too much from irrigators. I would imagine they’re saying that up and down the river, aren’t they?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, Matt, indeed. It’s not easy, of course – in fact it’s probably impossible – to make everyone happy with this sort of plan but I think South Australians will wake up today and be very surprised to discover that there is less water flowing for the environment under this Plan than the one that was released 12 months ago, yet potentially greater cuts coming from South Australian irrigators under this Plan than the one 12 months ago, so that really is a ‘double whammy’. I understand the need for compromise, that we may not get all of the environmental flows that we want for the state of SA, but there’s got to be, of course, some give and take. At present, it seems as if it’s all take from SA but there’s less environmental flows being forecast but greater potential cuts from SA irrigators.
DAVID BEVAN: What clarity do irrigators have in this state?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: David, absolutely none is the answer there. We know for sure that South Australia’s Murray irrigators will lose at least 101 gigalitres of water, but that’s the minimum and there is no maximum. There’s…
DAVID BEVAN: Now, have they already lost some of that or is it an extra 101 gigalitres you say they’re going to have to lose?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: No, some of that has already been recovered, in fairness, so in fact most of that 101 has been recovered, in fairness, but there is this thing they’ve put into this report which wasn’t in the last one called the ‘shared reduction amount’ and that’s nearly a thousand billion litres of water across the southern part of the Murray system which has to be recovered but it doesn’t say which parts of the system it’s going to come from, so…
DAVID BEVAN: Okay, well…
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … for SA’s irrigators that 101 could turn into 201 or 301 or who knows what.
DAVID BEVAN: Senator Birmingham, thanks for your time.