Murray Darling inflows are welcome, but should not lull the Gillard Government into complacency over the need for reform in the Basin, Coalition Murray Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s River Murray Weekly Report issued today confirms that
  • Despite major flooding in some Victorian tributaries, impacts in the Murray will be more modest
  • There will be significant beneficial watering of various floodplains and wetlands
  • Despite uncertainty of forecasts for the Lower Murray, the Lower Lakes will fill, allowing significant releases through the Murray Mouth for the first time since 2006
“Widespread rain across the Murray Darling Basin is of course extremely welcome and will lift spirits for people and communities reliant on its water resources,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“A good rainfall event, however, does not in any way reduce the need to ensure that our water is being used sustainably and efficiently now and into the future, with consideration for the needs of both the environment and Basin communities.
“Rainfall now also does not reduce the need to minimise water losses. Unlike their first term, the Labor Government must actually deliver investment in water saving infrastructure to support more efficient farming practices that will also secure the economic and social future of Australia’s food producing communities.
“Labor itself highlighted as a priority at the 2007 election the need to re-engineer Menindee Lakes to save 200 billion litres of water a year. Having done nothing for three years but again promised it in 2010, they actually need to deliver these works this term.
“We welcome the improvements recent rainfall will bring both for water users and the system’s environmental assets, but caution against complacency about the need and urgency for Basin reforms.
“The Coalition also looks forward to the release by the Authority of its long awaited draft Basin Plan that Water Minister Penny Wong has refused to say whether or not she’s been briefed on, so that Australians can have informed discussions on the matters it will raise.
“Sadly, Australians have only two election campaign press releases from which to judge the Gillard Government against its promises, with no water policy documents released by Labor during the campaign.”