Commonwealth hypocrisy continues on Basin Plan

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) is shocked by the Albanese Government’s congratulatory messages to the New South Wales Government yesterday on submitting half of its water resource plans, five years late.

VFF Water Council Chair Andrew Leahy said Victorian farmers remain in disbelief towards the Commonwealth’s continued ignoring of their contribution to achieving the Murray Darling Basin Plan’s outcomes.

“It’s absurd that nine NSW water resource plans remain incomplete five years after the requested date and somehow we get a press release yesterday telling us how great this is.”

“Victorian farmers are gutted that NSW can be rewarded with $115 million for Basin Plan projects, yet Victoria, which completed its water resource plans over five years ago is being punished and threatened with no funding if we continue to oppose water buybacks,” Mr Leahy said.

In September 2023, the Inspector-General of Water Compliance described NSW’s failure to have completed its water resource plan as ‘deeply concerning’ when he uncovered that the Barwon- Darling system had over used water for a third year, with 40 per cent overuse for 2021-22. 

The Gwydir system had also overused water for three years with 21 per cent overuse for 2021-22. The Murrumbidgee also exceeded its water use by 18 per cent last year.

“The failure to have any of these water resource plans completed means the Inspector-General has no legal powers to prosecute this overuse.”

“To pat NSW on the back for continued overuse and water resource plans five years late smacks of total disregard for the effort Victoria has made to ensure compliance.”

“It shows that Minister Plibersek is not interested in governing fairly and in the interests of all people in the Basin,” Mr Leahy said.

Mr Leahy also highlighted the Inspector-General’s metering report card in 2022 which analyses the number of meters in the Basin. The report found Victoria had 46,766 meters, 6,174 in NSW, 3,439 in South Australia, 1,963 in Queensland had 363 I the ACT. 

“We are continually told by the government that you cannot manage what you can’t measure, yet there’s not much measurement going on in the other states.”

“Its high time the Commonwealth stop with the games and blacklisting Victoria and instead make some genuine steps for real engagement,” Mr Leahy concluded.