The latest anti-farmer comments by Jay Weatherill demonstrate just how arrogant and irrational the South Australian Premier has become in the Murray-Darling Basin plan debate, Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh said today.
“Mr Weatherill wants a Basin Plan that would not only cause substantial and sustained flooding in Victoria, but would also risk flooding his own Murray River communities in South Australia,” Mr Walsh said
“Also, according to Mr Weatherill, landowners would not deserve any compensation for loss and damages caused by his preferred Basin Plan.”
The Australian newspaper today reports: “Mr Weatherill said farmers worried about flooding did not deserve compensation because they had historically extracted too much water from the system.”
“Mr Weatherill’s comment is wrong and is a huge insult to our farmers,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh said Mr Weatherill was conveniently ignoring the fact that his preferred Basin Plan would put South Australian as well as Victorian communities at risk of future devastating floods.
“We only have to look back to the flows of the flood events that affected our communities this year and last, to confirm that a Basin Plan returning 3,200 gigalitres would risk producing similar events,” Mr Walsh said.
“In 2011 Victorian Basin communities suffered significant flood damage and there were also 400 homes inundated along the Murray River in South Australia.
“Earlier this year when parts of Victoria were again underwater, South Australia asked the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to limit flows from Victoria to 60,000 megalitres per day in order to avoid floods in their state.
“Yet the MDBA’s latest results, which Mr Weatherill is championing, are based on actively releasing environmental water to achieve a flow of 80,000 megalitres/day across the border,” Mr Walsh said.
“A Basin Plan including the 3,200 gigalitre return figure would cause great hardship to South Australian and Victorian river communities and private land owners, for relatively little environmental gain.”
Mr Walsh said Victoria was strongly committed to a Basin plan that balanced the needs of the environment, communities and irrigators not just in South Australia but in all Basin states.
“In the Ministerial Council’s 9 July 2012 consensus statement, all states and the Commonwealth supported the MDBA’s recommended 2,750 gigalitre of outcomes,” Mr Walsh said.
“Victoria has not changed from that position. The results of the 3,200 gigalitre modelling are not a new starting point for negotiations.”
Press Release, October 11, 2012