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Don’t waste money

The Albanese Government can ease the considerable pressure being placed on its budget by taking a common-sense approach to water management, according to the community-based Speak Up Campaign.

Its chair Shelley Scoullar says the government should avoid wasting money on unnecessary water buyb

acks and instead instigate a review into the benefits of water recovered to this point.

“Under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan a total of 2,750 gigalitres is to be recovered from food and fibre production and delivered to the environment, most of which has been achieved.

“With the present high inflation and significant cost of living pressures impacting Australian families, we should now take a step back in our water management and review what has been achieved.

“Do we actually need to recover more water? If we do, can it be delivered along a flood-prone river system? What would be the social and economic impacts on our communities? These are all question

s that need to be answered.

“We do not need to continue barging ahead. Instead, pause and review would be a more sensible approach,” Mrs Scoullar said.

The Speak Up Campaign is concerned about speculation that Water Minister Tanya Plibersek is about to announce further water recovery.

“It beggars belief that at a time when we have seen record floods, which just happen to coincide with serious inflation, housing and energy crises, budget pressures and concerns about national debt, we have a Federal Government that is contemplating wasting money on water buybacks.

“If there wa

s a scientifically proven need to quickly push more water down the river system, perhaps it would be contemplated. But the only thing currently proven is that the river isn’t wide enough to carry the volumes which were modelled under the Basin Plan.

“So it’s hard to understand, at such a difficult time for our nation, why we don’t take stock of how the plan is being delivered and how we can do it better,” Mrs Scoullar said.

She said communities have continually been frustrated at the political game-playing taking precedence over sound policy and management. There have also been decisions based on achieving political agendas, thus ensuring the government billions continue to flow.

“For many years, Speak Up has been calling for a solutions-based approach that provides an effective balance between delivering water for productive and environmental use. In that respect, nothing has changed.

“Unfortunately, what also hasn’t changed is a broad desire to achieve this balance. Right now, we have an opportunity to reset the agenda. We dearly hope the Albanese Government will not instead waste money on water buybacks, which will hurt rural communities and the federal budget at a time when a more sensible approach is required,” Mrs Scoullar said.

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