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Thursday, 15 May 2003
Page: 14804

Mr BRUCE SCOTT (12:27 PM) —I know there is very limited time left—in fact only three minutes until the adjournment debate—but I rise to discuss the Murray-Darling Basin Amendment Bill 2002. Very briefly, the original Murray-Darling Basin Agreement was made on 24 June 1992—not long after I came to this place—and was confirmed by the Commonwealth and the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The purpose of this bill is to update the agreement and to make new arrangements for the sharing of this valuable resource of water and a certain section of the Murray River. As well, the amending agreement includes provisions for the management of environmental flows in the river Murray. The objective is:

... to promote and co-ordinate effective planning and management for the equitable efficient and sustainable use of the water, land and environmental resources of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Water is without doubt this country's most valuable natural resource. To say Australian primary industries rely on this product to survive is quite plainly an understatement. With the exceptional drought that has plagued and continues to plague much of our country, there needs to be real security and sustainability over our future water supply. I am pleased to say that farmers, small businesses and local governments in my electorate of Maranoa—which I might say encompasses some 40 per cent of the Queensland land mass—are actively working to sustain water resources. These farm families, businesses and local governments want a future where water is available to irrigate their crops, to sustain property in numbers and to ensure their viability and future livelihood. Local governments particularly want to make sure that they have sustainability and security over water, because without water you cannot encourage future regional development into your community. Future regional development and the development of new industries in regional and rural Australia will rely on the availability of water. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.