Labor refuses to rule out seeking water from irrigators

16 May 2014 newsmedia

Shadow River Murray and Water Minister Michelle Lensink and Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone are calling on Premier Weatherill to guarantee South Australia’s remaining commitment to the Murray Darling Basin Plan will not fall on irrigators.

Under questioning from the State Liberals in Parliament last week, Water Minister Ian Hunter failed to provide assurances that the remaining 43 gigalitre contribution would not come from food producers:

“The remaining water recovery will be achieved with input from relevant industry or organisations through willing participation.” (Minister Hunter, Hansard, 08/05/14)

“Irrigators have a right to know just how much more water the Weatherill Labor Government is going to ask them to contribute,” said Ms Lensink.

“Both irrigators and river communities deserve certainty, not spin, from a Water Minister who continues to play politics with water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin.”

Mr Whetstone, whose electorate is home to thousands of irrigators, said the Weatherill Labor Government’s history on the Basin Plan consisted of rhetoric and broken promises.

“Premier Weatherill travelled to the Riverland in 2011 and stood on the banks of Renmark to announce that irrigators would not give up one more drop of water as part of the Basin Plan,” Mr Whetstone said.

“Ironically, every drop of South Australia’s contribution to the Basin Plan so far has come from irrigators.”

Mr Whetstone said water for the Basin Plan must be recovered through long overdue environmental works and measures in South Australia such as various projects identified for the Lower Lakes.