The New South Wales floodwaters saga highlights the need for genuine national management of the Murray Darling Basin and should be a learning experience, Coalition Murray Darling spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Senator Birmingham welcomed an in-principle agreement from the New South Wales Government to release ‘reasonable’ flows downstream but said the situation should never have arisen.
“This release of floodwaters to communities downstream of the Menindee Lakes storage entirely relies on the goodwill of the New South Wales Government, which under current arrangements has total say,” Senator Birmingham said.
“It also comes only after the South Australian Premier was reduced to writing a letter to the Prime Minister, copying in the New South Wales Premier.
“I’m pleased that we can expect some downstream flows on this occasion but, even with the best intentions, the goodwill of the New South Wales can’t and shouldn’t have to be relied on in the future, and wouldn’t under a system of truly national management.
“This is why the Prime Minister and Basin State Premiers should go back to the drawing board and negotiate genuine national management of the Murray Darling Basin.
“Only a truly national approach will see the Murray Darling Basin managed as a single entity with consideration for its overall health today, and only an urgent meeting of Basin State First Ministers will see truly national management realised.
“Mr Rudd should convene this meeting, and Premiers with a genuine interest in reform would be urging him to do so also.”