Water

Environment group: no need for plan pause

By Country News

Goulburn Valley Environment Group president John Pettigrew has welcomed Federal Labor’s policy about the future of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan but says pausing it is not necessary.

‘‘You can’t just rule out the 450 (Gl),’’ he said.

‘‘You can say it was an arrangement tacked on the end of the basin plan but the basin plan wouldn’t have been signed up by all states if it hadn’t been for that.

‘‘Once the 650 (Gl) of water was taken off it, in our view we needed that 450(Gl) to compensate for some of that.’’

Despite being in favour of a review, Mr Pettigrew said pausing the plan while the review happened was not the best way forward.

‘‘We certainly supported the extra time for the water resource plans to be done in NSW, if required, but not a pause,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s no need for a pause.’’

Federal Labor said it would look to return the socio-economic test to its original state and remove the cap on buybacks, both of which Mr Pettigrew said he would be in favour of.

‘‘We were unhappy with the MinCo decision (which changed the test) last December,’’ he said.

‘‘The 1500 (Gl) cap was brought in politically and Labor supported it.

‘‘We were unhappy when that was brought in. We’re not up to the cap yet, it hasn’t come into effect.

‘‘Our reasoning is that the Sustainable Diversion Limits, those projects adding up to the 605Gl, we think a lot of them are highly questionable and we suspect that some (projects) in there won’t deliver the water.

‘‘We will be out looking for water. The fact that we can’t get water with on-farm efficiencies means there’s no other way to purchase it and we don’t like the idea of a cap there precluding that down the track.’’