The Coalition welcomes the release of today’s hydrologic modelling report.
We hope it will assist the state and federal governments to end the bickering and reach some agreement around this important reform.
The Coalition remains committed to Murray-Darling reform that delivers a triple bottom line that considers economic, environmental and social sustainability for the Murray-Darling Basin and the communities who rely upon it.
This report demonstrates that removing constraints to increased flows can improve environmental outcomes and that removing constraints in tandem with committing more water to environmental flows will provide further improvements.
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority itself notes that this report does not study the feasibility of these options, nor does it amount to a cost-benefit analysis.
While the release of this report should be welcomed, it poses as many questions as it does answers, including:
- What is required to remove these constraints? How much would their removal cost? What is the risk from higher flows to flooding of private land and public infrastructure such as bridges?
- What would the economic and social impact of increased environmental flows be? How would this extra water be recovered in a way that minimised social or economic costs or even provided some benefits?
- What does the release of this report mean to the timeline for finalising the Basin Plan and presenting it to Parliament?
Development of the Basin Plan has been beset with delays, missteps and bickering under Labor.
We hope the release of this report will bring about a new and positive pathway forward, but Minister Burke needs to answer the questions it poses if he is to get this reform back on track.