Michelle Lensink

Murray-Darling Basin Plan

A supplementary question put forward to the Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) regarding the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:06): A supplementary question: how does the minister respond to comments also published in the paper today from Craig Knowles which described the decision to cut funding from the MDBA as disappointing, completely baffling and strange, and says that it tells upstream states that South Australia cares less and is 'at odds with its two year long "Save the Murray" campaign'.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (15:06): I thank the honourable member for the supplementary question because it allows me to say a few extra things and put on the record how this government has been leading the charge in the fight to make a healthy River Murray.

Where was the opposition; where was their position on the River Murray? They wanted us to accept 2,200 gigalitres. They wanted us to take what was on offer from New South Wales and Victoria without going in to fight for our state. That is where the Liberal Party were. They put up the white flag at day one. It was Premier Jay Weatherill who insisted on taking the fight up to the commonwealth and the Eastern States; it was Premier Weatherill who took the fight up and got us 3,200 gigalitres.

I seem to remember that it was also Mr Craig Knowles who did not want to give us the 3,200 gigalitres either. It was that gentleman who was suggesting that we take a lesser amount. It was Premier Jay Weatherill who got this amount for our state; it is Premier Jay Weatherill who will deliver it for our state. Let me say, we in South Australia take 7 per cent of the water out of our river system—7 per cent. This next coming financial year, with our contribution to the Murray-Darling Basin staying exactly at what it is, we will be paying 29 per cent of the authority's money—29 per cent for 7 per cent take. Is that fair? Is that what you want us to say to New South Wales? 'Don't worry guys in New South Wales, we'll oversubsidise you. We in South Australia will subsidise you for the extra money.'

That is the Liberal Party position—we will be subsidising the Eastern States for no return whatsoever. That is not our position. We will fight for our state; we will make sure South Australian irrigators and South Australians enjoy a healthy river.

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