NSW says it's time for Basin Plan to pass the test

Media release | 13 December 2018

The NSW Government will take a strong negotiating position on behalf of NSW Basin communities at the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in Melbourne tomorrow to ensure there is a robust socioeconomic test.

All Basin Ministers agreed to the development of this test earlier this year and despite the scaremongering by Tony Burke, there is no change to the definition or wording originally agreed to.

Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair said he knows exactly what he is wishing for and wants a deal that puts Basin communities first.

“I believe Friday’s MINCO will be the most critical meeting since the Basin Plan was first agreed to in 2012,” Mr Blair said.

“Earlier this year the Basin Plan looked doomed due to senseless politicking but now we have an opportunity and a potential way forward.

“If a deal can be reached tomorrow, we would finally see certainty and the parameters of the Plan firmly entrenched. I’ve said from day one that the Basin Plan can and will be implemented, but not at all costs.

“We will negotiate with the Commonwealth and other states to ensure efficiency projects that contribute to the 450 GL ‘upwater’ under the Basin Plan undergo rigorous assessment and do not penalise regional communities.

“We’ve spent months consulting extensively with communities and industry and their overwhelming feedback is that they want a robust and transparent test that allows them to have confidence in the process.

“More than a year ago, NSW and Victoria put aside political borders because we wanted to make sure the plan delivered environmental benefits but not in a way that left Basin communities behind. We know the pivotal role that water plays in both regional prosperity and the long-term growth of our communities.”

The NSW Government will also seek funding to allow NSW to progress consultation on and assessment of Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism Projects (SDLAM), including the Menindee Lakes Water Saving Project, which will deliver environmental benefits for the Basin Plan without ripping more productive water out of our communities.