South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill should apologise for misguided remarks attacking irrigators over Murray-Darling Basin water use, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Mr Weatherill has suggested farmers suffering stock loss and property damage as a result of any flooding associated with increased environmental flows in the Basin do not deserve compensation.
“We think the perpetrators of the injustice – that is taking too much water – it sits ill in their mouth to actually claim compensation when they’re the ones who have been doing the damage.”
Jay Weatherill, The Australian, 11 October 2012
“Jay Weatherill is wrong and his remarks will simply increase antipathy amongst those already concerned at Labor’s mishandling of Basin reform,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Critically, Mr Weatherill’s remarks suggest he fails to recognise that overallocation has, in the main, been the fault of governments rather than the farmers and irrigators who lawfully extract water for productive use in accordance with limits set by those governments.
“While some upstream goodwill might assist in smoothing the way towards a Basin Plan that delivers real benefits to the river and those who rely on it, Mr Weatherill appears hellbent on achieving maximum antipathy.
“Mr Weatherill’s extreme rhetoric is only damaging public confidence in the Basin reform process and his threat to take the Basin Plan to the High Court has prompted retaliations from upstream states, all of which hurts the chances of getting the best possible outcome.
“Mr Weatherill should apologise for his latest outburst and start working constructively towards a good Basin Plan.”