Moree mayor Katrina Humphries has slammed the Senate’s decision to disallow the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Northern Basin Review.
Last night the Greens, Labor and Nick Xenophon Team voted to block a 70 gigalitres amendment to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The amendment was the recommendation following a four-year socio-economic and environmental study which concluded that the initial recovery target in the Northern Basin be downgraded by 70GL, from 390GL to 320GL.
“I think it is an absolute disgrace that so much effort and so much work can be put in AT PUBLIC COST to come to a conclusion in the review and have it squashed for political gain,” Moree mayor Katrina Humphries told The Moree Champion on Thursday.
“Have they not read the social and economic impacts? Have they not read what this has done to communities like Collarenebri or Dirranbandi?
“I think it’s an absolute disgrace and stupidity and appalling judgement by people that are paid by taxpayers to do a job that they cannot essentially fulfill.”
There are now talks that both NSW and Victoria will withdraw from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan altogether.
“I understand why NSW and Victoria are thinking of pulling out,” Cr Humphries said.
“Our northern basin has always been separate from the southern basin anyway.”
However, Cr Humphries said the repercussions will be felt in the Moree Plains - one of the richest agricultural shires in the country.
“It means more confusion and more years of uncertainty,” she said.
“I’m disgusted and I’m sure many community members will be appalled.
“Some might think it’s a win but I see it as an absolute travesty of justice.
“There are people it will send to the wall that won’t get enough water.”
Cr Humphries estimates that millions of dollars, let alone years of meetings and research, has been wasted on the project, all for nothing.
“It would be hundeds of millions of dollars – I believe at one time the MDBA [Murray-Darling Basin Authority] had up to 350 staff members,” she said.
“For the Authority and everyone else to come up with a recommendation that some people wish to manipulate for their own political gain … whatever happened to bipartisanship?
“This was a plan that was going to work for everyone.
“If NSW and Victoria pull out, South Australia will go back to being the driest state in the driest continent in the world.”
Cr Humphries also noted that the MDBA still have money in their budget for further efficiencies and questions where that leaves everyone.
She said it was particularly disappointing for the Greens to ignore all the efforts growers and irrigators have made to comply with a plan a lot of people didn’t like to start with.
“With the goodwill that’s gone on and the efforts gone into people giving up allocations and water, for parties like the Greens to thumb their nose at it … they are going to cause huge issues in South Australia,” she said.
“I see this as an absolute grasp at catching a few votes.
“Somebody has to be accountable for this.
“Whose head’s going to be on the chopping block?
“Who’s going to have on their conscious this absolutely waste of work.
“This is what happens when people meddle with stuff they don’t understand.”