Murray Valley Standard letters to the editor, February 12, 2019

Photo: Sam Wudke/AAP.
Photo: Sam Wudke/AAP.

Enough spin from our state government

After having listened to a pathetic attempt to spin, a political move to sound like a great move for South Australians, I think it’s time to put a few truths on the table.

Shortly after the state election last year I attended a meeting at which the new environment and water minister David Speirs was invited to speak.

He stood on the stage boasting about the fact that he had just flown back from meeting Minister Littleproud, positive that there was going to be a great working relationship and that the plan would move along well.

Minister Speirs then proceeded to discredit the South Australian Royal Commission as a waste of taxpayers’ money, stating that it was costing $10,000 dollars a day and wasn’t needed – that it was a political stunt.

Speirs and the Marshall government gave me no confidence in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and the receipt of the 450 gigalitres of up-water, back then.

The request by the commission for extra time to allow due process, and the High Court decision on the government and Murray-Darling Basin Authority being called as witnesses, was denied.

Finally, our Minister for Environment and Water went to the ministerial meeting in December.

At this meeting South Australians were sold out when he agreed to further gut the plan, allowing it to move away from its original intent.

The intent was to reduce allocation and restore the environment, to protect the river from further extraction, and he allowed both New South Wales and Victoria to get their own way on efficiency measures, ensuring that South Australians won’t get the water we so urgently need.

Minister Speirs repeatedly said that the states were not coming to the negotiating table but that, through his deal, he had paved a way forward.

I disagree.

I was at the ministerial meeting in Albury in November 2017 and the ministers were at the table.

They may not have been in agreement, but they were there.

NSW and Victoria had been threating to walk away from the plan at every opportunity, trying to push their own agenda.

I stood and listened to both Niall Blair and Lisa Neville continually say at the press conference that South Australia was holding them to ransom.

More to the point, South Australia was trying to hold them to account.

This government has proven it can’t stand up for South Australians and is being led by its federal counterparts to our detriment.

The Marshall government needs to stand up now respect the findings of the royal commission and immediately repeal the deal made in December.

They need to demonstrate that they have our best interests at heart.

Rosa Hillam, Greens candidate for Barker

Buybacks would hurt communities

Never forget there were originally proposals for thousands more gigalitres of water to be returned to the Murray-Darling.

Farmers and river-reliant communities would have been sacrificed to achieve that, and that’s why farmers burned early drafts of the basin plan.

States ultimately locked in a basin plan balancing the “triple bottom line” of social, economic and environmental needs.

Water buyback decimated river communities.

The basin plan will be attacked by radical environmentalists, who only see a river, not farms, communities or pipelines to Adelaide and South Australia’s regional centres.

People, farmers, river communities and SA’s regional economy need water – and they care about the river.

Don’t let radicals throw the baby out with the river water.

Rikki Lambert, Australian Conservatives Senate candidate