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Thursday, 2 June 2011
Page: 5723

Dr STONE (Murray) (10:51): by leave—I too join with my fellow committee members in saying that this was a report perhaps different to many others that come before this House in that it actually affects the livelihoods and futures of the people living on 14 per cent of Australia's land mass. We received consistent evidence throughout the basin that in fact there is a win-win solution to this—there is a triple bottom line approach that can be taken. In my electorate of Murray, and for me in particular, this was no academic exercise; what comes through in this final plan for the Murray-Darling Basin will determine if the irrigation communities of northern Victoria survive and thrive or—and this would have been the case if the original guide to the plan had been followed through—be decimated. The report we have tabled is very much a reflection of how we can go into the future, preserving the food production and fibre capacity of the most fertile part of Australia and at the same time ensuring that we preserve for all time our iconic sites and our biodiversity; and we must do that. But—as the previous speaker said, and indeed the chair of the also committee alluded to it—you cannot manage the ecosystem appropriately if you do not have productive, viable, strong human communities. Those human communities in the basin manage day to day the natural resources that are in turn part of their productive base and the biodiversity protection.

I commend to the government the recommendations of this report. I know that the government has good intentions here. They have already made substantial changes to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority personnel, and I commend them for doing that; it was very timely and important that they did. I know that the government understands the importance at this time; as the basin recovers from years of drought and in some places flood; as the people need to have their trust restored in what governments can do and will do in a timely way. We need a win-win scenario—the environment must be protected, the productive capacity of the basin must be supported and further enhanced and our nation must march together, understanding the rights of all farms to survive and thrive and the interdependence and necessity of sustainable natural resources.