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Murray-Darling Basin's Future Is Too Important To Get Plan Wrong

The Australian Greens have called for a commitment from the Federal Government to stand by reform of the Murray-Darling Basin which deals with the realities of a drying climate, according to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Senator Hanson-Young, Greens Spokesperson on the Murray-Darling Basin, says reports of potential changes to water allocations in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan are welcome, although yet to be confirmed by the final plan.

"We've known for years that the system has been over-allocated, now it's time to get the balance right,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

"We need a sustainable river system - it's the only way to keep communities around the river sustainable as well.

"The Greens believe the line of argument that says because we've had floods and a wet year the problems are over is a short-sighted assessment.

"Sadly, the end of the current drought does not mean an end to all droughts in Australia. We will face these type of conditions again, it's only a question of when. It's vital that we act now to reform the river system so that we are not caught unawares when the big dry returns.

"With the recent rains, we have been given a precious opportunity to make necessary reforms in the river system.

"We should be taking the opportunity now.

"If this plan is to have any real effect it has to provide the environmental flows we need to keep the Murray-Darling as a viable river system. The environment needs to have a voice in these discussions.''

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority will finally release the plan tomorrow at 4pm eastern time. The plan will then go through an extensive consultation process before a final plan is ready.

"We have to remember that what we see tomorrow is only a draft plan. Whatever the actual figures are in the report, it is very important that the plan is not watered down through the process to the point where the environmental benefits of reform are lost,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

"Reform of the basin and the way people in the basin use water is vital. If we don't deal with the over-allocations, if we don't restore the balance the river needs, we could lose the entire system for everyone.

"The Greens will work to achieve a sustainable Murray-Darling Basin that offers a sustainable future for communities at all ends of the system. A statement by the Government that it remains committed to real reform that restores and protects the environment is vital.''

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