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Legal advice sheds doubt on legality of Murray Darling Basin draft plan, shows whole process fails South Australia: Greens

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Monday, 2 April 2012

Media Release

Legal advice sheds doubts on legality of Murray Darling basin draft plan, shows whole process fails South Australia: Greens

New legal advice has cast doubt about whether the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s draft plan meets the legal requirements of the Commonwealth Water Act, the Australian Greens said today.

“The draft plan must be fixed otherwise it is doomed to fail,” Greens’ water and Murray Darling spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.

“The draft plan will fail to save the river and now we know it fails to comply with the Act, so as a result the whole process fails South Australia.

“We appreciate what Environment Defenders Office (Victoria) has done to scrutinize the legality or otherwise of the flawed draft plan.

“The federal government needs to answer these troubling questions about the ineffectual draft plan which currently sets the river system up for failure.

“Recently I asked in the Senate if the federal government was certain the draft plan was legal under the Act. The government could not say and has refused requests to release any legal advice.

“It’s vital Australians be told whether the draft plan fulfils the government’s obligations for achieving the sustainable diversion limits under the Water Act. This legal advice says the draft does not comply. “The legal advice also says it is difficult to determine whether the MDBA is aware of Australia’s commitments under the RAMSAR Convention and Biodiversity Convention. The Greens are very concerned by this.

“With $9 billion of taxpayers’ money at stake, we cannot afford to waste money being guided by a document which the science says unless it’s significantly modified, will cause the river to die. “No federal MP should back a draft plan while there are serious doubts about its legality.

“The Greens want the uncertainty about the plan to end because there will be many anxious South Australians attending the MDBA public consultation in Adelaide this Tuesday who will want answers.”