The passage of the Water Amendment Bill before the Senate tonight may be unlawful and could risk a High Court challenge, according to the SA Royal Commissioner investigating the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“This is a bad piece of legislation that will set the Murray Darling Basin Plan backwards. It is in direct contradiction to the purpose of the Plan, which was to ensure the environment got the water it needed for the river system to survive,” Greens Murray Darling Basin spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
“This Bill is a result of the dirty deal between the Turnbull Government and the Labor Party that betrays the environment and South Australia. It allows the Government to take billions of litres off the environment to hand to big corporate irrigators in the Northern Basin; something that Labor originally rejected when they supported the Greens’ disallowance in February.
“All South Australian Senators had an opportunity today to send a message home that we are working together on saving the Murray, the Coorong and the Lower Lakes. In supporting the Greens’ amendment to the Water Amendment Bill, legislating the delivery of the 450GL of water to the River, South Australian Liberal, Labor and crossbench Senators could have played a part in restoring the health of the River.
“This legislation unamended enables the cutting of more water at a time when there are serious legal questions on the delivery of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, and undermines the advice of the Royal Commissioner. Bret Walker SC has made his view clear – anything that doesn’t put the environment front and centre could be challenged in the High Court.
“South Australians saw most of their Senators abandon the River and turn their backs on their state today.”