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Opinion Editorial on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

South Australia and the whole Murray-Darling Basin have been waiting for a long time for action to tackle our water crisis. We now have an opportunity for reform - but we have to take it now.

There's no doubt that the proposed changes will not be easy to implement, but that is no reason to avoid the challenge. Everyone knows we have taken far too much water for far too long, and the river system has suffered as a result.

The 3000 to 4000GL the authority recommends to go back into the river system - which takes into account social and economic costs - is the bare minimum required for the environment. The report itself states that if the only goal was to save the river for the long-term, we would be putting up to 7600GL back. The authority has told us the minimum needed - we can't afford to give the river anything less.

It's time to get the balance right, to restore and protect the environment, while ensuring that river communities can be guided through a difficult transition time.

Business as usual now has to change. We know we face increasing challenges from climate change. That's why it's vital that we act now to put in place a long-term national plan where everyone plays their part in achieving more sustainable water use.

The Federal Government must also provide genuine, targeted investment in river communities, who will all need different levels of support to allow them be innovative, doing more with less water. This is the only way to maintain viable and sustainable communities and to protect Australia's food bowl.

What's really important now is that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is allowed to be truly independent. The days of vetos on water reform have to end - there is no other option.

We all need to work together and put politics and states' interests aside so we can save the river system for everyone.

Sarah Hanson-Young, Senator for South Australia and Greens Spokesperson on the Murray-Darling Basin

 

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