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Water Act provides for socio-economic assessment

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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Federal Member for Murray

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Water Act provides for Socio-economic assessment

The recent articles and letters form the Northern Victorian Irrigators published in local newspapers claim that Coalition members of Parliament are responsible for the failures of the just released Murray Darling Basin Authority’s Guide, in particular its failure to do adequate analysis of the social and economic impacts on communities.

Why have the Northern Victorian Irrigators become apologists for Labor?

Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone, said the Murray Darling Basin Authority has ignored the directives of the Water Act 2007.

“There were specific clauses built into the Water Act 2007 to make sure that the social and economic impacts on Basin communities were properly considered.

In Part 2 of the legislation under Subdivision B section 20 the Act says that the purpose of the Basin Plan:

“is to provide for the integrated management of Basin water resources in a way that promotes the objects of this Act, in particular by providing for (d) the use and management of the Basin water resources in a way that optimises economic, social and environmental outcomes.”

The Water Act 2007also says the Basin Plan is to be developed: “(b) .. on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge and socio-economic analysis and (c) have regard to (v) social, cultural, Indigenous and other public benefit issues.”

The mandatory content of the plan according to this Water Act 2007 must also include (Section 22) “(d) the social and economic circumstances of Basin communities dependent on the Basin water resources.”

“If the Water Act 2007 did not have this focus on socio-economic issues, why do we now have the Authority employing more consultants to undertake further socio-economic research by March next year, duplicating the Parliamentary Committee inquiry into the social and economic impacts of the Basin Plan?”

“The Northern Victorian Irrigators need to focus on trying to achieve a win-win outcome for the Basin Communities. They do not need to carry the flag for the Government. We must see the commitment of the more than $5 Billion put aside by the Coalition to help farms to save water. We also need more of this funding spent on system maintenance and water savings,” Sharman Stone said.

Media enquiries: Jo Shannon 0417 148 110