THE crippling uncertainty that has haunted Griffith since 2010 could drag on into next year after federal water minister Tony Burke failed to present a basin plan to parliament this month.
There are only eight days of parliament remaining this year and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan must sit on the table for 15 days after it is submitted.
A final plan is still nowhere in sight, despite Mr Burke’s promise to have it in place by the end of the year.
At the end of the 15-day period, the plan will become legislation without going to a vote – unless a disallowance motion is submitted by an opposing party in the meantime.
That disallowance motion will have to come from an unlikely source – the Greens.
Riverina MP Michael McCormack said the Coalition was unlikely to submit a motion if the state ministers came to an agreement on the plan, which is still under negotiation behind closed doors.
“The basin states are all under Coalition governments so, if they agree, then we’re not really in a position to knock it (the plan) back,” Mr McCormack said.
“There is a lot of pressure on those ministers to make sure the plan will not destroy communities.
“Some compromise will have to be reached to ensure economic survivability for the 3.4 million people living in the basin.”
While he has pushed hard for agreement from the states, Mr Burke has repeatedly threatened to “go it alone” and present the plan to parliament without their consent if necessary.
He is expected to table the plan, regardless of the outcome of negotiations, during the last week of parliament in late November.
Local water campaigner Paul Pierotti was certain the Greens would come to basin communities’ rescue once the plan was tabled.
“I am confident this plan won’t go straight through – whether it happens this year or next there will be a disallowance motion,” Mr Pierotti said.
“What I want to know is how we can make sure basin communities will be protected when we won’t have a chance to see the plan before it goes to parliament.
“How can anyone endorse this plan without any consultation with communities?
“It is completely unacceptable and shows blatant disrespect for everyone affected.”