Draft must sustain communities as well as environment: McCormack

The Federal Government must show leadership in the water debate if the Murray-Darling Basin Draft, to be released tomorrow, reflects the leaked version and does not provide a triple bottom line approach according to Nationals’ Member for Riverina Michael McCormack.

“Social, economic and environmental considerations all must come into play for this to be an effective draft,” Mr McCormack said today.
The draft outlines the proposed limits on water use (known as Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDLs) to deliver sustainable environmental outcomes in the Basin. 
However, as Mr McCormack points out, taking productive water out of the system and hitting the food bowl of the nation – the Riverina – the hardest, is not a sensible outcome for anyone.
“We all want a healthy river system,” Mr McCormack said. “No-one wants that more than the family farmers who grow the food to feed this nation.
“At the same time, there must be proper accountability of environmental water.
“To date only $245 million of the $5.8 billion set aside for water savings infrastructure projects has been spent by this Government.
“Labor continues to buy water for the environment without justifying where and how that water will be used.”
Mr McCormack said The Nationals will have a strong presence in Griffith, the heart of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, on Tuesday with Shadow Water Minister Barnaby Joyce and his fellow Senators Fiona Nash, Nigel Scullion and Bridget McKenzie to visit the city.
“We will meet with Paul Pierotti from the local business chamber as well as other stakeholders and will visit a number of businesses in Banna Avenue to talk to people about the possible impacts of the basin draft,” Mr McCormack said.
“The Coalition proposed a $400 million fund to help Basin communities expand economic and employment opportunities as well as $500 million fund to secure Australia’s future water supplies for productive purposes especially, but not exclusively, within the Murray-Darling Basin,” Mr McCormack said.

Cristy Houghton