Murray-Darling Basin Plan

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:26): Today I rise to speak about something that is dear to my heart and very important to the people of Chaffey and that is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan; the intergovernmental agreement that South Australia has yet to sign up to.

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:26): Today I rise to speak about something that is dear to my heart and very important to the people of Chaffey and that is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan; the intergovernmental agreement that South Australia has yet to sign up to.

When the previous premier was knifed and the current Premier came into power as the leader of the Labor Party, he came to my electorate and said that irrigators would not give up one more drop of water. He said that we would achieve 4,000 gigalitres and that was his promise. Along the way we have seen his promises slowly slip and slide away, from 4,000 back to 3,200.

We see the desal plant, that would reduce Adelaide's reliance on the Murray, now being mothballed. We see that he secretly agreed to giving up another 83 gigalitres of basin water, insisting that South Australia would not give up more water. He signed up to an additional 450 gigalitres of environmental water without seeing any of the detail and who would be giving up that water.

The Premier and the new water minister have got a lot to answer for to the people of South Australia. Victoria has signed up to the agreement, as has the ACT—they are receiving extra funding. The Premier and the water minister continue to say to my constituents and to the people of South Australia that we are days away from signing that agreement. Now it has been weeks since they have said it will be days. Again, South Australia is being left out in the dry. The Premier is spin-drying the people of South Australia. More importantly, he is spin-drying the people of Chaffey.

The water minister of South Australia is saying that the Coalition is the biggest risk to South Australia and yet I have an article here to say that Mr Joyce and the Coalition represented the biggest risk to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which they signed on to, but South Australia has still not signed on to the intergovernmental agreement. What sort of hypocrisy is that, Mr Speaker?

Again, South Australia now needs to achieve 83 gigalitres of water, and for the Premier not to sign up to this intergovernmental agreement again puts the Water Industry Alliance initiative at risk—$240 million that is coming into the river communities of South Australia to achieve 40 gigalitres of water through infrastructure improvements. Those infrastructure improvements are for water. Again, that is more water that South Australia will give up, remembering that the Premier said that irrigators would not have to give up any more water under his watch. Again, that is a broken promise.

The government has committed another 20 gigalitres as part of that 83 gigalitres, but guess where that 20 gigalitres has come from? Yes, it came from the suffering irrigators during the drought. They had to sell their water, under sufferance; they were not willing sellers. They were sellers due to bank pressure, due to the drought, due to watching their trees die. They had to sell that water to the government. Again, we look at the water minister and the Premier here in South Australia not living up to a promise. That is another broken promise. We continually hear the Premier and the water minister, who he goes to for advice, saying to my constituents, 'We're days away.'

I have the banks ringing me and saying, 'What is the Premier doing about signing this intergovernmental agreement?' We have finance contracts that we need to get into play so that people can improve their efficiencies and make the necessary management changes on their properties. Yet we have a Premier and a minister who are giving us more and more spin, just drying out the river communities of South Australia.

We see the Australian Conservation Foundation saying that the Coalition's capping the buyback is not the answer, that it is putting the basin at risk. I say to them that we have to have the balance: we have to have buyback, but we also have to have the infrastructure upgrades so that we can have people growing our food, so that we can have communities who live on a sustainable river. To have our Premier, our water minister and the Conservation Foundation saying that the Coalition is the problem is absolutely outrageous.

The South Australian Liberal Party has said from day one that the 2,750 is achievable and that we need a balance in this plan, yet we have the Premier telling us that we are the biggest problem. We have the minister now saying that the federal Coalition is the biggest problem.

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