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Labor urged to protect its Basin legacy and walk away from Greens deal

7 February 2018

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is urging Labor to protect its legacy as the Government that delivered the historic Murray Darling Basin Plan by reconsidering its position on plans to vote for a disallowance motion.

NFF Chief Executive Officer Tony Mahar said Labor and then Water Minister Tony Burke made history when, under their leadership, six Governments ratified the plan, effectively bringing it to life.

“This significant achievement will forever be etched in our nation’s history.

“However, this week the Labor Party is on the cusp of making history again – this time for all the wrong reasons."

Mr Mahar said the future of the Plan, and that of Basin communities, hung in the balance with Labor planning to vote in favour of the disallowance motion to quash amendments proposed by the Northern Basin Review.

Mr Mahar said if successful, the disallowance motion could see the entire plan thrown out and go against the science-based amendments suggested by the Northern Basin Review.

“The Basin Plan was created with periodic scientific review and adjustment in mind.

“In that vein, the Northern Basin Review, which was completely independent and science-based, last year concluded that communities in the Northern Basin were nearing breaking point as a result of water buybacks.

"We are seeking that all parties agree with the umpires decision and put politics aside to maintain support for the plan.

"It's simply too important to rural and regional communities."

The Northern Basin Review identified a number of effective ways to deliver environmental outcomes without the need for further buybacks.

The move to block the adoption of the Review’s independent recommendations would stop positive measures to improve the health of the Basin overall.

“The Plan was a compromise from the start," Mr Mahar said.

“No one stakeholder was entirely satisfied, to say the least.

“Picking and choosing parts of the plan to serve short-term political interests, threatens the whole integrity of the landmark compromise that Mr Burke negotiated five years ago.”

"Not to mention showing contempt for the sacrifices made by Basin communities.

Mr Mahar said the Parliament had a clear choice.

"Make a constructive and moral decision to maintain the necessary commitment to the Plan to benefit the environment, farmers and communities or continue down the path of ruin for the sake of politics.

"Basin farmers are seeking Labor's support to vote for the on-time and in-full implementation of the Plan as intended by its signatories.

"Which will it be Mr Burke?"

Media Enquiries: Ms Laureta Wallace
P 0408 448 250
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