ELEANOR HALL: A compromise between Australia’s major parties has seen the Senate pass a key piece of legislation* on the management of the Murray-Darling Basin but the compromise doesn’t extend to the states and now the New South Wales Government says it is considering its own legislation to limit water buybacks. In Adelaide, Rebecca Brice reports.
REBECCA BRICE: It was an at times passionate debate. … They were debating legislation to allow for adjustments on how much water will go into the Murray-Darling system for the environment. In the end, it passed with the Government and the Coalition voting together. South Australian Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: There’s a lot of passion in this debate and that’s not surprising at all. I think we will see, as we get to the final point of it, that that passion remains and people are standing up for local communities, in many cases, but what we saw today was the Government and the Opposition working together to take a step closer to getting a Basin Plan and it’s now up to the Government to deliver one that meets the basic needs of delivering for the river and for river communities.
REBECCA BRICE: You mentioned that compromise. How was that compromise reached?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: The changes to the Water Act passed today were changes that all of the states had agreed needed to be made to ensure the Basin Plan could operate in a more efficient and flexible way in future and so the Opposition saw the importance of that. We’ll still test the Basin Plan on the basis of whether it delivers environmental sustainability for the Murray-Darling and whether it’s going to be implemented in a way that preserves the socio-economic fabric of river communities across all Basin states.
REBECCA BRICE: The Federal Minister, Tony Burke, couldn’t be reached but he acknowledged the passage of the bill on Twitter, saying the MurrayDarling Basin Authority could now send him the proposed Plan. Senator Birmingham hopes Mr Burke will release it as soon as possible…
*Water Amendment (Long-term Average Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012