Media Releases | 28th Nov, 2011

Basin Plan fails rivers and the environment again

Monday, 28 November 2011

Time for Gillard Government to get Plan back on track.

The draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan is a flawed proposal that will fail to deliver on its legislative requirement to provide a secure future for rivers and the communities that depend on them, said Environment Victoria today.

Environment Victoria called on the Prime Minister to get the plan back on track given the MDBA’s consistent failure to properly model scientifically robust scenarios to return the Basin’s rivers to health.

Environment Victoria’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said today:

“The draft Plan has lost sight of its basic objective to restore rivers to health. The MDBA is consigning our precious rivers and wetlands to a slow death if the final Basin Plan doesn’t return more water to them.”

“If the Plan were to become law today it would not meet its legal requirements to protect and restore the ecosystems of the Murray-Darling and internationally recognised wetlands like Hattah Lakes, Macquarie Marshes and the Coorong. This would prolong uncertainty for river communities as a flawed Plan will no doubt be the subject of legal challenges.”

Ms O’Shanassy said the Plan failed in 3 key areas:

“The draft Plan will not deliver enough water to rivers to give any degree of certainty that they will be healthy in the future. It does not make full use of best available science, which shows we need to return at least 4000 billion litres to the rivers of the Basin. And incredibly the Plan does not make any allowance for future climate change.”

“Its time for the Prime Minister to get the process back on track by requiring the modeling of scientifically robust quantities of water being returned to rivers. After all Australians are contributing nearly $9 billion for the implementation of the Plan, and can reasonably expect a Plan that will restore the Basin’s rivers and wetlands to health.

“From our initial reading of the Plan, there’s no detail on the environmental outcomes the draft Plan will achieve. This makes it impossible to ascertain what it will mean for the rivers of northern Victoria, or any of the other rivers of the Basin, and is a clear failing of the process.”

“The one saving grace is that this is a draft Plan and it can be improved in coming months. The MDBA has failed twice. The Gillard Government must ensure that we don’t strike out 3 times in our efforts to save the Murray.”