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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 13891


Mr DRUM (MurrayNationals Whip) (13:56): The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is a plan to find the balance between the needs of irrigation communities and the need to return our rivers to health. Everybody wants a healthy river system, and the plan, while it may be far from perfect, is better than no plan at all.

Last week we had the Labor Party, with Tony Burke and Penny Wong, saying that if they get the opportunity they're going to reintroduce buybacks to return more water to the rivers. This proposal is being driven purely by pre-election politics, with no regard to the impact it will have on basin communities. Removing the caps would be a shocking decision. We all know that inflows into our rivers are at all-time lows, but removing water from irrigation communities can cause incredible damage if it is done without careful planning. Even when it is done with careful planning it can be very problematic. Of all the ways in which a government can assist with returning water to the environment, the worst way, the dumbest way, is that of buybacks. Buybacks leave remaining farmers stranded. All of these assets through our irrigation communities can become stranded. Buybacks have been ridiculed by every water policy expert ever to draw breath, yet the federal Labor Party are now saying that if they win the election they will introduce the laziest, dumbest, worst possible policy, which is introducing water back to the river system through buybacks.