SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

TONY BURKE MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER

SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURAL AUSTRALIA

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR WATSON

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

13 February 2019

LABOR TO REPEAL THE 1500GL CAP ON BUYBACKS IN THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN

Today, Labor introduced legislation to repeal the 1500GL cap on water buybacks to help protect the Murray Darling Basin.

The extraordinary fish kills over summer, the Productivity Commission review of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the report of the South Australian Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin are dire warnings about the health of the Basin.

Labor is taking urgent action by introducing a Bill that will repeal Barnaby Joyce’s cap on water buy-backs.

Labor is undoing the harm done by Barnaby Joyce when he was Water Minister.

When the Abbott Government legislated the cap, Labor made clear that we would oppose it if it compromised our overarching goal– the delivery of the Basin Plan and securing the health of the River. It’s clear that every step of the way, Barnaby Joyce attempted to undermine that goal.

Labor’s Bill will help ensure irrigators and state and territory governments deliver projects that return water to the river, and it will provide flexibility to give the Basin the water it needs if they fail to do so.

The cap on buyback was never part of the original Murray Darling Basin Plan.

As we get closer to the period where the Murray Darling Basin Plan will be due for review, and the quality of the 605GL of “down water” or “supply projects” is yet to be determined, we need to make sure our options are open to recover water.

By removing the cap on buybacks Labor is removing legislative barrier to providing more water for the Basin, if that is what is needed.

Labor has always fought for a healthy Murray Darling Basin. We fought to deliver the Murray Darling Basin Plan in Government, and have fought in Opposition against the Liberal and Nationals attempts to undermine its delivery.

Labor is considering the full report from the Productivity Commission, the South Australian Royal Commission and we have sought advice from the Academy of Sciences in regard to the fish kills. Our response will continue our ongoing fight to protect the Basin.

Labor’s Water Amendment (Purchase Limit Repeal) Bill 2019 repeals Division 5 of Part 2 of the Water Act 2007, removing the entire section related to the 1500GL cap on buybacks.

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.