Tony Burke must act to end the funding dispute engulfing the states and Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) which MDBA Chair Craig Knowles said, if unresolved, would see “the administration of the assets and functions of the Basin will rapidly deteriorate.”
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray-Darling Basin Simon Birmingham today called for Water Minister Burke to convene an urgent Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting to resolve the funding dispute.
“With New South Wales cutting $20million and South Australia $14.3million, key MDBA programs such as the Sustainable Rivers Audit and Native Fish Strategy have already been cut,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“We are now in danger of losing salinity programs, water quality management and seeing maintenance on essential river infrastructure cut.
“Along with continuing delays in negotiating intergovernmental agreements following the adoption of the Basin Plan, funding cuts are an emerging risk to the management and operation of the Murray-Darling river system.
“With the next Ministerial Council not scheduled until June, after budgets in most states have been locked down, it is vital that funding issues are addressed immediately.
“With South Australia potentially flip-flopping on the cuts it announced last year, there is even more reason to get the states around the table and talking.
“After so many years and so much hard work to achieve a Basin Plan, it would be a disaster for funding disputes to derail effective management of the Murray-Darling.”