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Murray-Darling Basin Needs Leadership Not Retreat From Reform

The Australian Greens continue to stand up for the future of the Murray-Darling river system, but are concerned at the lack of will and leadership from other parties that is threatening that future, according to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on the Murray-Darling Basin, says the Water Act was designed to establish an independent authority with the power to achieve vital, permanent reform of water use that will enable us to save the Basin.

"But now we see the Government running away from reform, the Coalition slamming the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, and the authority, which is supposed to be independent, second-guessing its own guide to the draft plan,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

"We know these water reforms are essential if we are to have a chance of saving the river system, and to keep it sustainable. But because of the short-term political posturing of some people, we are jeopardising the whole process of reform.

"The authority's figures don't lie. If we are to guarantee the survival of the system, then we would be looking at returning up to 7600GL of water to the river. But the authority chose a more conservative route, and identified the bare minimum amount of water (4000GL) needed to give us a chance of saving the river. Now even that figure is under threat.

"We can't afford to let this reform fail. We can't backtrack on returning the necessary water to the river, otherwise everyone loses - we won't have a living river, which means we won't have viable industry and we won't have sustainable communities.

"We need leadership on this issue, and it has to start with the Government and the Minister taking some responsibility for this reform, rather than the current approach of blaming the authority, washing its hands of the process and letting the Coalition's relentless negativity dictate the agenda.

"This is too important an issue for half-measures.''

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