CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS: Murray-Darling Basin
Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (10:12): The federal water minister says the nation has never been closer to a River Murray agreement after new modelling shows that increasing flows would dramatically improve environmental outcomes—so he says.
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority on 9 October released scientific, and I will come back to that word, analysis of the environmental gain of returning 3,200 billion litres per year to the system and removing obstacles, and I will come back to that word as well, to flow. It shows that 17 of 18 key basin sites, including the Lower Lakes, Coorong and South Australian wetlands, many of which are man-made, would be protected if 3,200 billion litres were returned and capacity constraints removed.
First of all, if the MDBA plans on actually listening to the science and looking at the science, that would be a first, let me tell you. I also mentioned the word 'obstacles'. What are obstacles? According to the MDBA, these are system constraints, which most of us know as roads, bridges, houses and towns—including Darlington Point in my electorate—which will all be flooded if the amount of water that the MDBA says is now needed actually flows down the system. The New South Wales Irrigators Council says the Basin Plan modelling released by the MDBA has placed the process 'entirely in the realm of absurd', and, of course, the chief executive of the Irrigators Council, Andrew Gregson, is correct. It is just absurd. It is totally out of the realm of reality to think that that amount of water would be put down the system.
The irrigators in my electorate, who actually grow the food to feed this nation, are understandably outraged. Griffith farmer John Bonetti was one of many who said the community would continue to take action to protect its food production capabilities. Yesterday morning I was at a breakfast—of the Crawford Fund, 'For a food secure world'—and there we heard that it is possible to feed the world and to feed the planet, which now has 7.2 billion people, as we heard at that breakfast, a billion of whom are already going to bed of a night hungry.
How can we expect to feed those people if we are going to take productive water away from the farmers who grow the food to feed this nation and other nations as well? Murrumbidgee Food and Fibre Association President Debbie Buller said that it is not in farmers' natures to play dirty, but she is understandably upset. She said that even if it is a good plan, which looks unlikely at this point, we are still in massive trouble if it is poorly implemented. Of course she is correct. If that happens, we all need to fight back, stand up and speak up. And we will in the Riverina. We will not cop a bad water plan. We will not cop this amount of water being taken out of our system and put down the river for no environment gain. It is totally absurd. (Time expired)