Farrer MP Sussan Ley has come back swinging in her first speech in parliament following her resignation from the frontbench, taking aim at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
Calling for change to environmental water recovery amounts taken from the southern Murray-Darling basin Ms Ley said her communities depended on the government “getting this right.”
“The regions I represent have lost a lot,” she said.
“Hay and Hillston stand out as having lost the most during Labour’s savage 2009 water buyback.
“80 per cent of water recovery for the Lachlan River came from Hillston.”
Ms Ley addressed a point of concern for many Griffith residents, that resilience against all odds was being held against them when it came to evaluating socioeconomic impacts.
“When I meet my farmers, they remind me: what would our regional economy look like if we had not lost so much of this permanent water?” she asked.
“Yes, there is a big tranche of investment coming into the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.
“We have seen it over the past 18 to 24 months – and Griffith is seeing a great deal of activity as a result.
“But ongoing long-term access to water at a price that is affordable and sustainable has to underpin this development.
“The can-do attitude of the Griffith region will do the rest.”
The MDBA continues its evaluation of the social, economic and environmental outcomes of the Basin Plan to assess effectiveness across the southern basin.
But Ms Ley added her voice to the cries of southern irrigators in calling for a full review of the plan in the south.
“This follows the northern basin review, which led to a 70-gigalitre reduction of recovery,” she said.
“But the MDBA has no provision to review water recovery targets in the south.
Ms Ley said if the basin plan’s environmental outcomes could be met using less environmental water then there “must” be an opportunity to adjust sustainable diversion limits by more than five per cent.
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