Senators have been urged to “stay the course” on the 37 Murray Darling Basin Plan Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDL’s).
Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) chief executive Philip Glyde said he was disappointed the Senate blocked changes, reducing the amount of water being returned to the environment in the northern basin.
Now a further disallowance motion on the 605 gigalitre (GL) SDLs – the maximum amount of water which can be taken for consumptive use – might not come back before the Senate until May.
“I hope that all parties will take into account the peer-reviewed science and evidence based work of the MDBA when considering these amendments and consider what is at stake,” Mr Glyde said.
“I sincerely hope all parties will continue to work together and stay the course with implementation of the Basin Plan.”
The 605GL project was seen as crucial in helping basin states reach the 2750GL target under the Plan.
Victorian Government believes if the SDLs were disallowed, the state stood to lose $320 million in investment.
Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) Basin Water Taskforce chairman Daryl Hoey said the big question was what Victoria was prepared to do to keep the plan going.
“At the end of the day, it’s always been the states who have had to come to an agreement on how to implement and carry forward the plan,” Mr Hoey said.
Victoria has threatened to enter a tripartate agreement with New South Wales and the Commonwealth, on a reworked Plan.
“If one or two states are not at the table, it puts the plan into disarray. At the very least, it has created a whole lot of distrust among the political players and the community.
“Regardless of what people’s criticisms are, the plan wasn’t perfect, but the States were still able to work with each other, implement change and come to a consensus and agreement as to how to go forward.”
Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) water council chair Richard Anderson said while the original disallowance motion would be of more concern to New South Wales and Queensland irrigators, it did raise questions about the SDLs.
“A whole lot of work has gone into putting those proposals up,” Mr Anderson said.
‘They had in principal agreement, even at Ministerial Council (MINCO) level, so you have got to question what the tactics are, what is playing out there?” Mr Anderson said.
“The sooner they approve - and start construction - on those 37 projects, the better off the environment is going to be