The Government must act to restore confidence in the Murray-Darling Basin reform process and release all legal advice relating to the consistency of the proposed Basin Plan with the Water Act, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
“With conflicting legal advice being touted by environmentalists, irrigators and the South Australian Government, it’s time for Minister Burke to end the uncertainty and release the thousands of pages of legal advice he holds,” Senator Birmingham said.
“All stakeholders, from irrigators and Basin communities to environmental groups, deserve to be fully informed, not selectively informed.
“Continued uncertainty and threats of High Court challenges threaten to derail the Basin reform process, throwing years of hard work out the window.
“It is essential that we get Basin reform right and avoid a return to the parochial state based fighting which has dogged the Murray-Darling Basin for a century.
“Labor have ignored repeated calls from the Coalition to make the Government’s advice public. The latest uncertainty caused by yet another stakeholder releasing advice that undermines the current process could have been avoided had Labor simply been transparent all along.
“The Government should act now to pre-empt a long, drawn out argument and bring certainty to the operation of the Water Act and development of the Basin Plan by releasing all legal advice it holds now. There is no justifiable basis to continue the secrecy.”