Water Minister must come clean on Basin deal

NSW Nationals

Shadow Water Minister Steph Cooke has slammed the ongoing secrecy surrounding the rewritten Murray-Darling Basin Plan between the NSW Labor Government and the Commonwealth, labelling it as “politics at its worst”.

Ms Cooke, the NSW Nationals Member for Cootamundra, said buybacks are a blunt instrument that literally wipe communities off the map.

“The Premier has repeatedly said he’s against buybacks. The NSW Water Minister recently said she too was opposed to buybacks, saying – and I quote – ‘I accept they have a negative impact on communities’.

“So if the government knows how devastating buybacks can be, what measures has the Water Minister put in place to safeguard against them? What guarantees can this NSW Labor Government provide that they won’t resort to removing water from the consumptive pool?

“This NSW Labor Government says ‘trust us’, but so far, they’ve done nothing to deserve that trust; there’s been no transparency whatsoever, just empty platitudes which frankly, without evidence to the contrary, are nothing more than weasel words.”

Ms Cooke said the Basin communities, farmers, and businesses protesting today have her full support.

“They deserve to know what’s in this rewritten Basin Plan, and I’m calling on the NSW Water Minister to once and for all show these communities the respect they deserve, and be up-front about what promises you’ve made to the Commonwealth.

“The Commonwealth Government has made clear they’re determined to deliver the extra 450GL of water for the environment, one way or another. But we just don’t know how the NSW Labor Government intends to help them achieve that.

“Removing water from the consumptive pool, especially without proper assessment around the socio economic and cultural impact, and without demonstrating measurable environmental outcomes, is certainly not the answer.

“This NSW Labor Government must immediately stand up to the Federal Water Minister, draw a line in the sand, and categorically rule out buybacks; the future of Basin communities depends on it.”

/Public Release. View in full here.