STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS - Murray-Darling Basin

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (13:53): Twelve thousand people who turned out at a community meeting at Griffith last December and just under 12,000 submissions from right across Australia do not seem to matter much to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The MDBA today released to the states its basin plan, which releases an outrageous amount of surface water to be taken from productive agriculture and given to the environment. Nothing in that respect has changed from last year's draft. The plan will have no better science in it and little more than the original guide which caused so much anger and uncertainty when it was released in October 2010. 

Now is the time for the Prime Minister to show what she meant when she addressed the Global Foundation Summit in Melbourne on 3 May when she said: 

Australia must be ready to act as the food bowl of Asia—not only a mineral resources quarry—to meet the needs of a growing region. 

I agree, and so do all of the hardworking Riverina farming families I represent. 

The Prime Minister continued: 
It would involve building our food-processing industry so that it can supply Asia's growing consumer markets and developing the research, technologies and logistics that strengthen irrigation, grow higher-yield crops and improve safety. 

Hear, hear! I thoroughly agree that we need to strengthen irrigation. But, Prime Minister, we cannot do that if we take the equivalent of more than five Sydney Harbours every year from farmers and give it to unsubstantiated environmental needs. That is not based on good science or good economics and it will not help our ability to feed ourselves and others into the future. 

Riverina communities will not cop a bad basin plan and nor should they have to. I call on the government to start rolling out more water infrastructure money, look at options for more dams and let us all do what we can to best use our water and help farmers to grow food. (Time expired)

Cristy Houghton