Water

Authority must do job

By Country News

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan only exists because of compromise, senior Labor MP Tony Burke believes.

The existing plan isn’t what he would have designed, but the former water minister says he doesn’t think there would be a plan if he’d pushed for what he wanted.

‘‘Every step forward has meant compromise and that is a reality of what is in front of us,’’ Mr Burke told parliament last week.

He backed a bill to give the government a second bite at changes to the plan blocked by the Greens and Labor in February.

The changes are back on after a deal between the Turnbull Government and federal Labor to reduce the amount of water being returned to the environment in southern Queensland and northern NSW.

That deal was the product of direct negotiation and Mr Burke believes the independent authority must now be left to do its job.

‘‘We will never resolve anything in the basin unless we accept that the independent authority, when it makes a call, must not be then litigated gigalitre-by-gigalitre by this parliament,’’ he said.

The Greens failed in a bid earlier this month to block further changes to the plan that will allow less water to be returned to the environment in the southern basin.