DAVID BEVAN: Now, something that we have just escaped from and that is the drought. We’ve had years of drought. The River Murray looked like it was in serious… well, it didn’t look like it, it was in serious, serious strife and yet when the Murray-Darling Basin Commission [Murray-Darling Basin Authority] said ‘you need to change the way you’re doing things with this river to the point of dragging up maybe 4000 gigalitres and returning that to the environment’ there was such an outcry the Federal Government set up another review [House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia inquiry into the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in Regional Australia] which has been headed by Tony Windsor, Independent MP which is one of the people who installed the Gillard Government. Now, the front page of the ‘Tiser is picking up what I think a lot of the people have long thought and that is that Tony Windsor and his committee aren’t all that keen on taking water out of the Murray system and returning it to the environment. Senator Simon Birmingham is a Liberal Senator with a special interest in the Murray. He joins us now from Canberra. Good morning, Senator Birmingham.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning David, Matt and listeners.
DAVID BEVAN: Are you a bit worried about Tony Windsor and what he’s going to report?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Look, I think it’s critical that we stick to the Howard vision and the Howard vision was for a balanced Plan a Plan that provided for a sustainable river but also put money in to keep irrigation and farming communities sustainable. That’s…
DAVID BEVAN: Yeah, whatever that means. You could drive a truck through that, couldn’t you?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, no, that’s the critical balance and that will probably mean you’ll have people in Adelaide upset and people in irrigation communities upset because nobody will get all they want out of this but it’s time for us to sensibly take a bit of the emotion and the politics out of this debate and look to get an outcome from this and get a fair dinkum Basin Plan that applies across the whole system…
DAVID BEVAN: Well, the way this is being reported in the paper today is ‘a key Parliamentary inquiry into the River Murray is likely to recommend there is no need for big cuts to upstream water entitlements’ because everything’s fine. Do you agree with that?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, I’d draw everyone’s attention to the last paragraph of that story that actually talks about further buybacks, further water saving investment in infrastructure, engineering works to fix the system. There’s actually plenty of things that are budgeted for that must still happen and that must form part of a decent Plan, but the key is Labor has spent the last few years inflaming this debate Mike Rann dragging other states off to the High Court, Penny Wong pursuing buybacks ahead of ‘win win’ infrastructure solutions. It’s time to actually get on with getting a balanced Plan and one that will keep farmers on the land producing food and give us a healthy river system.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Senator Simon Birmingham, Liberal Senator for South Australia, thank you.