Today’s announcement that Victoria has signed up to the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) on implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan leaves many questions unanswered, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
“While any progress on strategic implementation of the Basin Plan is welcome, the signing of just one state in a piecemeal step risks the process descending into chaos, confusion or a counterproductive bidding war by the states,” Senator Birmingham said.
“The IGA was supposed to be signed by all states at the 7 December 2012 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, shortly after the Basin Plan was finalised last November.
“I expect the intergovernmental agreement will be signed at COAG…”
Tony Burke, National Press Club, 22 November 2012
“Minister Burke must explain why, seven months after finalisation of the Basin Plan, he has locked in the IGA with Victoria, yet other states are still to agree to its terms.
“Does this mean that other states will have to sign onto the IGA as agreed to by the Commonwealth and Victoria or will there be different agreements between the Commonwealth and each of the different states?
“If an IGA has now been locked in, Minister Burke must explain why the Commonwealth has locked in the IGA before agreement has been reached with all states and should publicly release the IGA as signed with Victoria.
“Minister Burke has also made a number of new funding commitments regarding the administration of the Basin Plan and administrative costs in meeting its implementation.
“The Minister should disclose where the funding announced will be coming from and make clear whether it will have any impact on the funds available for actual water recovery or environmental offset activities by the Commonwealth.
“The Minister has resisted my calls to bring Basin ministers together to thrash out their disagreements over the IGA and now taken a punt that by signing one jurisdiction on the others will follow. For the sake of the Basin and Basin communities I hope it pays off.”