Labor has done a catastrophic U-turn on the Murray Darling Basin plan that will cost primary industry workers their livelihoods and threaten business investment in rural Australia
Liberal Democrats’ Senator David Leyonhjelm said Labor has joined the Greens in supporting a disallowance motion in the Senate that rejects a recommendation by the Murray Darling Basin Authority to modify the basin plan.
Victoria and NSW have strongly reacted to this interference in the progress of the basin plan by indicating they may withdraw from the process, which would see the plan collapse.
“Labor used to claim it was the party for workers,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.
“Then it experimented with being the party of business. Now it appears it is the party of neither.”
During question time on 21 March 2012 then Labor Environment Minister Tony Burke said:
“…we participate with the certainty of knowing we will be on the side of backing the reform when it lands. We know that we will be on the side of having a national approach to the Murray-Darling Basin”
Senator Leyonhjelm said Labor was now risking its hard fought legacy of getting the basin plan legislated in 2012, that resulted in real reform of water use in the basin.
“By playing opportunistic politics with the plan’s amendments Labor risks trashing all the progress of the last decade in water reform,” he said.
The amendments to the plan proposed by the MDBA are supported by state and federal governments, rural communities and the overwhelming majority of farmers.
“It beggars belief that the complicated negotiations between farmers, state governments and the federal Parliament are being thrown away to serve Labor’s short term political interests,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.
“Together with its dithering over the Adani mine, Labor has clearly now divorced itself from the concerns of mainstream Australia in a bid to save inner city seats.”