MIA irrigators back calls for Basin Plan withdrawal after Senate vote

A number of MIA irrigators, business leaders and politicians have backed the NSW Government moves to walk away from the Murray Darling Basin Plan, following an unfavourable Senate vote on Wednesday. 

The NSW and Victorian governments reiterated it’s desire to withdraw from the Plan, after Labor senators joined the Greens in a Senate vote on Wednesday to block a move that would have cut environment water flows.

“Under my stewardship (NSW) will now start the process of withdrawing ourselves from the plan,” NSW Water Minister Niall Blair said after the Senate vote.

Prominent farmers Rob Houghton, Kel Williams and Helen Dalton; Member for Murray Austin Evans; Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi and Business Chamber president Paul Pierotti, have all said they would support the NSW government’s move to withdraw from the plan. 

Mr Houghton, a Gogeldrie grower, said “we're supposed to be working together on this and what the Greens and Labor are doing is just crazy”. 

"I think the states have to walk away from this plan. If not, it's all just a sham."

Member for Murray Austin Evans said, “I’m just disgusted that the Greens, and more so Labor, would turn this whole process into politics”. 

“As [NSW Water Minister] Niall Blair said, we will now start the process of withdrawing from the plan”.

“We would never say no to dialogue… but it would take something from [Labor] to demonstrate good faith”. 

Griffith Business Chamber president Paul Pierotti said the collapse of the Basin Plan is inevitable.

“If the federal government are going to undermine their own processes, legislation and audits – which by the way we don’t agree with – then the whole thing is a disaster”.

“NSW and Victoria have no choice but to protect their communities”.

Farmer Kel Williams said the end of the Basin Plan would offer the chance for a fresh start. 

“It’s time to start over again, to negotiate and get back to where we used to be”. 

Mr Williams said any new strategy needs to take account of what’s happening in South Australia.

“The evaporation of the Coorong is responsible for more water loss than what the irrigators take”. 

Farmer Helen Dalton, who stood as a candidate at the recent Murray by-election, said the death of the Basin Plan will bring some much needed respite to basin communities.

“Let’s face it, every drop of water that leaves our area is like losing a drop of health care, or education”. 

“I’d hope [in any future plan] they’d finally decide to undertake true consultation with rural and regional communities”. 

“For too long, decisions about rural environments have been made in office buildings in Sydney and Canberra”.