Water

Call to mend broken plan

By Country News

Independent MPs will help Labor ‘‘trash’’ the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley has warned.

Ms Ley, whose electorate includes the southern Riverina, said destroying the Murray-Darling Basin Plan wasn’t an option.

‘‘The arrival of another drought means irrigation communities in the Murray-Darling Basin are staring over the cliff,’’ she said.

‘‘Water allocations are low, or non-existent, and the price to buy is too high.

‘‘After one of the toughest years on record, during which I’ve worked with irrigation communities to bring flexibility to the plan, I am calling for an immediate independent assessment of environmental allocations and water entitlements to get the basin plan back on track.

‘‘It is a risk communities across the basin do not want to see repeated.’’

The warning comes after Senator David Leyonhjelm pledged to promote the withdrawal of NSW from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan if he is elected to the NSW State Parliament next month.

In one of his last speeches to the Senate ahead of his official resignation on March 1, Senator Leyonhjelm slammed the plan for devastating rural NSW.

He described the price South Australia had paid as a ‘‘pimple on a pumpkin’’ in comparison.

‘‘My solution to this, my advice, is that NSW should simply withdraw from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and tell South Australia to grow up, stop whingeing and answer a few questions,’’ he said in his passionate speech.

‘‘NSW should not re-join any plan involving the Murray-Darling until South Australia can answer some serious questions.’’

He questioned why NSW and Victorian farmers should sacrifice vital water.