Nationals Senators have welcomed the introduction of a cap on water buybacks in the Murray-Darling.
“This is a policy that the Nationals fought for in opposition and it's great to see this protection for communities come into law thanks to the election of the Coalition Government,” three Senators said in a joint statement. “This has been welcomed by all the Nationals Senators today."
The Senate today passed the Water Amendment Bill 2015, which ensures that no more than 1,500 gigalitres of water will be bought back from farmers under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Around 1,160 gigalitres has been bought back so far.
“This will mean that communities will have certainty about the adjustment that they are facing and can plan for their future,” NSW Senator John Williams said.
“This is a responsible decision, unlike that of the previous Labor Government, which spent $303 million of taxpayers’ money buying water from the Twynam Group for no obvious benefits.
“And Labor also funded the then New South Wales Labor Government back in 2008 to turn Toorale Station from a gazing block into a national park,” Senator Williams said.
Victorian Senator Bridgette McKenzie said farmers in the Murray-Darling basin deserved the certainty provided by the Coalition water plan.
“There has been a long period of drought but farmers in the Murray-Darling have shown they are committed to water efficiency and the certainty provided by our cap on water buybacks from the system will be welcomed by communities throughout the basin.
“Victorian irrigation communities have experienced the devastating affects of government intervention in the local water market and welcome the cap and focus on infrastructure investment to achieve further savings."
Queensland Senator Matt Canavan said there has been a disproportionate amount of water that has been bought back in southern Queensland.
“This Bill will help focus future attention on getting smarter about using water, not just buying it back,” he said. “If we can do that we will protect many jobs in regional communities and help keep families on their farms."