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12 March 1991 - Current

 
Goulburn-Murray irrigation district
Page 4489
14 December 2017
ASSEMBLY Questions without notice and ministers statements LISA NEVILLE

Ms NEVILLE (Minister for Water) (11:29:59) — Can I thank the member for Shepparton for her question. It is a very important question and one that confronts us immediately with the ministerial council coming up next week, but also over the coming months and where we head with it. I completely understand her frustration. She is really reflecting the frustration of her communities, not just in the Goulburn-Murray irrigation district (GMID) but also along the Sunraysia as well in terms of some of the issues we have faced around allegations of water theft et cetera.

We do know from our own socio-economic report and that done by the communities in the Goulburn-Murray region that we have significant pressure because of the significant buybacks that happened during the start of the Murray-Darling Basin plan. In fact we know that dairy in particular was subject to selling off a large quantity of their high-reliability water shares, to a much greater extent than horticulture, although our socio-economic reports show that we are at a pretty significant trigger point not only for dairy but also for horticulture. So this is an issue right across the basin in Victoria.

At the Ministerial Council for Corporations (MINCO) on Monday and Tuesday of next week we are meeting with stakeholders, and then the ministers are meeting. Firstly, I will be calling for a high-level independent review. We have been doing that consistently; we have been asking the commonwealth to do this because we do need to get to the bottom of what has occurred. We have got multiple reviews going on, none of which go to the issue of improving turbidity confidence. I would be very keen for those opposite to perhaps support that independent call to Barnaby Joyce.

Secondly, I will be telling MINCO — and I am sure the member for Shepparton will agree that the evidence does not yet exist for us to be able to proceed with the recovery of the additional 450 gigalitres that South Australia is seeking. There is no community confidence — every single socio-economic report shows us that 450 could significantly harm our communities.

Thirdly, I will be calling for the work to continue on delivering the projects under the plan that will deliver the 605 gigalitres. That is currently before the Senate, and unless we get that through, our communities will potentially face further buybacks from the commonwealth. There is a legislative component around that, so again we need the commonwealth to get this through the Senate to support that and get the 605 gigalitres and the sustainable diversion limits adjustments and the projects on the ground.

I can assure the member, I can assure this house and I can assure northern Victorians that we are going to be continuing to advocate strongly to protect their water interests. This is significant to the economy of Victoria but also for that region. Unfortunately others signed up to this plan that I do not think has been in the interests of Victoria.