Statement on SA Royal Commission
Obviously a 746 page document will take time to consider.
We’ve made significant inroads in delivering water back to the Murray Darling Basin, with the recent PC review finding nearly all of the 20 per cent of productive water which needed to be recovered for the environment has been.
We’ve also taken big steps forward on compliance, which was indeed an issue in the Basin. Nobody who is doing the right thing has anything to fear from compliance. NSW has taken the issue seriously and real progress is being made.
Last year, for the first time, we used satellite tracking to make sure environmental flows made their way down the river – a great result achieved through modern technology.
Minister Speirs acted with integrity in dealing with me. The historic Basin agreement would never have been struck while Jay Weatherill was Premier of SA. When he and his combative Minister Ian Hunter left, we were able to take the politics out of the Basin Plan.
For the first time we have bipartisan agreement, between states and the Commonwealth, on how to return water to the Basin. This has come about through leadership and goodwill; not through fighting.
I thank Tony Burke and all Basin Ministers for their honest spirit and cooperation as we created a historic Murray Darling Basin Agreement and gave the two million Australians who live up and down the Basin certainty for the first time in eight years. These people were fatigued from having their lives on hold because they didn’t know what water their district was likely to have – water is wealth in these areas.
The legal advice to the Commonwealth Government under both sides of politics for the last seven years has been consistent—the Basin Plan is lawful and was lawfully made.
As a Basin MP myself, as we experience a second serious drought this century in large parts of the Basin, I continue to hope for serious rain.