Water

Premier wants water meeting

By Country News

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has called for a meeting of Australia’s water ministers to consider recent reports into the Murray-Darling Basin, including SA’s royal commission.

In a rowdy return of state parliament for 2019, Mr Marshall moved a motion also calling on the basin states to continue to work together to implement the current Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full.

‘‘What is at stake is the health of our nation’s most important river system, the Murray-Darling Basin,’’ the premier told parliament.

‘‘It is a system that cannot be managed in five discrete parts, but it is a vital national resource.’’

But the South Australian opposition labelled the premier’s motion last Tuesday a stunt and criticised its decision to flout convention and not give Labor MPs details until just before parliament returned.

The SA Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin found water allocations were driven by politics and called for a complete overhaul of the basin plan.

It accused the Murray-Darling Basin Authority of acting unlawfully, committing gross maladministration and taking a ‘‘head in the sand approach’’ to climate change.

The basin plan was signed into law in 2012 by the Federal Government and basin states and aimed to return water to the system for the benefit of the environment.

Mr Marshall said his government was not in power when the plan was negotiated but strongly supported it being implemented in full.

The premier said as the state at the end of the river system, SA had the most to lose from any failure to deliver its objectives.

‘‘Enough water won’t flow through to South Australia for the environment if we make unnecessary enemies of those upriver who are able to divert it,’’ he said.