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Bush Summit the right place to start telling the truth

As politicians and community leaders prepare to descend on Griffith, a community advocacy group is calling for a reset in political narrative.

The Speak Up Campaign says its request is quite simple: Can we please get back to talking and acknowledging the truth?

It says the misinformation that has been spread about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan this year is a sad reflection on the standards of our political leaders.

Speak Up Deputy Chair Lloyd Polkinghorne said it is disappointing that a community group has to ask our politicians to stop misleading the nation.

“But unfortunately, that is what it has come to. So as they descend on Griffith for a summit that is supposed to support local communities and help them prosper, accepting the need for honesty must be the number one priority,” he said.

Mr Polkinghorne said throughout the year there have been constant references that either imply, or on occasions directly state, that only two gigalitres of the required volumes have been recovered under the Basin Plan.

“The correct recovery number to this point, in fact, is more than 2,100, with the balance to be recovered from projects that benefit the environment.”

Mr Polkinghorne suggested six areas where honesty and truthfulness need to be at the fore:

1. The true amount of water recovered under the Basin Plan and the positive impacts it is already having on the environment, as acknowledged by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

2. That an additional 450GL written into the Basin Plan was at the 11th hour insistence of the South Australian Government, and is conditional on there be no adverse social and economic impacts on rural communities.

3. That the taxpayer funded SA desalination plant is not being effectively used, and could be delivering 100GL a year of valuable water to Adelaide and surrounds.

4. Acknowledge flaws in the Basin Plan original modelling.

5. The Southern Basin has done the ‘heavy-lifting’ under the Basin Plan, and the onus must now by on South Australia and the Northern Basin for any additional water recovery. If there are to be further water buybacks, they can be from SA entitlements.

6. As various reports have identified, there have been distortions in the water market caused primarily by speculators. Governments need to consider how to ensure water is prioritised for environmental and agricultural use, not used as a commodity like Bitcoin.

Mr Polkinghorne added there had recently been rural media commentary around the fact that truth has become a casualty of the Basin Plan, however in metropolitan media this has not been recognised, and as a result politicians are getting away ‘scot-free’ with the incorrect information they continue to spread.

“It is time for media and politicians to do their research and stop the misinformation.

“This needs to start with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Environment and Water Minister Tania Plibersek, and the Griffith summit is the ideal place for to adopt the fresh approach.

“I encourage them to make it clear to everyone about the true volumes that have been recovered under the Basin Plan, the positive results that are being achieved and the caveat of no socio-economic damage to communities must be acknowledged and enforced before any consideration is given to recovering the additional 450 gigalitres,” Mr Polkinghorne said.

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