Water Minister Peter Walsh has called on Victorian Labor Party leader Daniel Andrews to explain whether he supports the current Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which has been endorsed by the Mildura Labor branch.
Mr Walsh said Mildura Labor Party branch president Ali Cupper had publicly supported the plan as it stands, which would see 2,750 gigalitres of water taken from irrigated food production.
“The Basin Plan in its current form is a death warrant for northern Victorian communities and will cost jobs,” Mr Walsh said.
“Ms Cupper has said she doesn’t want to see the Sunraysia region ‘become a dustbowl’. Well supporting a plan that will take water from irrigators will do just that.
“Mr Andrews must clarify whether he supports the decision of Labor’s Mildura branch or not.”
Even Federal Labor Water Minister Tony Burke has admitted “we are not yet at a point where I believe we’ve got documents in front of us that I’d be happy to sign off on” (28 May 2012).
Mr Walsh said modelling from both the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) showed the current Basin Plan would have devastating effects on rural communities.
The MDBA in its own socio-economic report says “the Basin Plan will affect irrigated agricultural production, with flow-on impacts for total agricultural production, gross regional product and employment.
“DSE modelling shows northern Victoria's grape production alone would fall by 11 per cent or $38 million under the proposed Basin Plan,” Mr Walsh said.
“This will cut jobs in rural towns and have a huge impact on northern Victorian farmers who rely on irrigated agriculture to support their families and communities.
“There will be flow-on effects to the rest of Victoria and the fact that Labor supports such an outcome shows it cares more about finding an easy solution than fighting for the future of regional Victoria.”
Mr Walsh said the Victorian Coalition Government could not support the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in its current form and would continue to push for a better outcome for northern Victorian irrigators and communities.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
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