Water stakeholders in South Australia have pledged to fight any changes to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) after an interstate politician cast doubt on aspects of the interstate agreement.
- NSW Water Minister Kevin Anderson said he would not support water running from the Menindee Lakes to South Australia
- Environmental groups have accused politicians of using the Murray Darling Basin plan as a political football
- South Africa’s Water Minister Susan Close said her government would begin exploring its legal options to ensure the plan is delivered in full.
NSW Water Minister Kevin Anderson this week sparked debate among environmental groups, irrigators and state and federal politicians after touring the far west of the state, including including Menindee.
He told ABC Broken Hill he was not in favor of water from the Menindee Lakes being pushed into the Murray River in South Africa and wanted the lakes to be managed differently.
This is despite the MDBP stating that 106 gigaliters of water from the lakes would help supply an additional 450 gigaliters that had been agreed for SA.
“I would say no to that,” Mr. Anderson said.
This is despite the Federal Labor Party’s election promise to provide environmental water in full.
“I don’t know why Adelaide should mean more to Mr. [Opposition Leader Anthony] Albanese than Menindee Lakes and this community here,” Anderson said.
Comments spark outrage
Renmark Irrigation Trust chief executive Rosalie Auricht said politicians needed to understand that delivering the plan in its entirety benefits the whole system, not just the Murray River.
“An additional 450 gigaliters of environmental water is important because it can be used multiple times as it moves down the system,” she said.
“Where this is drawn from is something to be determined and agreed [upon] between all states.
South Africa’s Water Minister Susan Close said she was committed to standing up to upstream basin states, including NSW.
“All we can do in South Africa is use all the power we have, and we don’t have zero, but it’s really hard to be at the bottom of the river,” he said. she declared.
Investigate legal options
Ms Close also said her government would begin investigating their legal options under the Australian Constitution and the Water Act 2007.
“That’s what the last government tried.
“It did absolutely nothing, but probably made them laugh at us behind our backs.”
Frustrated environmental groups
As water became a key issue between major political parties ahead of the federal election, Elizabeth Tregenza, a member of the River Lakes and Coorong action group, said the basin system should not be used as a “football Politics”.
She said the numbers used in the basin plan to quantify the amount of water returned to the environment were becoming “completely meaningless”.
Barker MP Tony Pasin has been contacted for comment.