The Coalition welcomes the released report of the House of Representatives inquiry into the impact of the Guide to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan as a way of getting Labor’s shambolic Murray-Darling process back on track, said Senator Joyce and Senator Birmingham today.
“The Committee’s report clearly spelled out that the current Labor Government’s management of the Murray-Darling has been wanting” said Senator Joyce today.
“To quote from a bipartisan, unanimously signed report:
The Committee heard of grave mistrust of this department across Basin communities resulting from the failure of the department to identify and respond to community concerns on a range of issues. In addition, this department has demonstrated a consistent failure to deliver water programs, including strategic water buyback, which is in the best interests of productive communities. This department should no longer be responsible for delivering these programs.[p. 3, emphasis added]
“It has become quite apparent that like everything the Labor Party does it lacks a control of costs, a sense of direction: it has not met targets and has been resoundingly rejected by the almost 2 million people in the Basin.
“It is quite obvious an absolutely strategic counter move is needed rather than the current direction that was apparent in the Guide to the proposed Basin Plan.
“Australia must retain its capacity to feed itself. It must respect the lives and jobs of people in the Basin. The Labor Party have pandered to the aspirations of those outside the Basin to bring the economic future of those inside the Basin to the brink.
“There is a recurrence of issues both in this report and what we have seen on many visits to the Basin – the Swiss cheese effect, the lack of strategy given to the buyback, the lack of economic understanding on how towns will be affected and the precarious position communities are put in when the economic use of water is removed from them without first thinking it through. 
“We welcome the Committee’s reflection that questions need to be answered about whether the current drafting of the Act can be improved to deliver on the promise that both sides of parliament made, that economic, social and environmental factors be delivered on in equivalence.
“We welcome the report as part of a wider process to improve the disastrous outcome that was seen in the Guide to the proposed Basin Plan brought about by the current Labor Party administration.”
“This report is a sad indictment on Labor’s performance in delivering Basin reform. Even Labor Members on the Committee supported this indictment of their own Government,” said Senator Birmingham.
“This must be a wake-up call to Minister Burke. The Government needs to get this reform back on track by investing in infrastructure and in farm efficiency which they have so abysmally failed at to date.
“Labor must commit to releasing a strategy of how it will sensibly recover water under a Basin Plan, not just make another claim of how much should be recovered. The rivers and communities of the Murray-Darling deserve a roadmap, not just a destination.”