Policy is the same: Drum

By Country News

Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum has denied there is a policy change by the coalition on delivering the 450Gl of down-water under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Mr Drum said the government had received legal advice that the the 605Gl and the 450Gl were tied together.

Basin governments have identified a suite of projects which make the delivery of water more efficient and flexible. An assessment by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has determined there will be 605Gl of additional water available for communities through the adjustment mechanism if the package of projects is agreed to.

‘‘We have always understood that we had to get the 605Gl signed off and agreed to first before we could worry about the 450Gl,’’ Mr Drum said.

‘‘We need to get that agreed to and accepted by all the states.

‘‘We are not backing away from the fact that the 450Gl can only be delivered under social and economic neutrality.

‘‘And on this point, the National party, David Littleproud and myself have seen no change in our language.

‘‘In my conversations with the minister (Littleproud) and with Mr Joyce, they both understood that it was going to be practically impossible for the irrigation communities to find the 450Gl without causing social and economic detriment to all those farming communities.

‘‘We are working around the clock to try to get the 605Gl SDLs through.’’

Asked if there was a divide between him and the water industry leaders of the Goulburn Valley in view of recent public statements, Mr Drum said he was regularly talking to the leaders and he understood their concerns about the delivery of the 450Gl.

But he said it was only the National party and the Liberal party which were really aware of the impact the 450Gl would have on rural communities.

He said he supported the GMID water leadership group in its approach.

Mr Drum said he was maintaining the fight in Canberra.

‘‘We are fighting like hell on this issue,’’ he said.