With a little more than two weeks to go until public submissions close on the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan (16 April 2012), Federal Greens Senators and the Convenor of the Riverina Greens are calling for changes to the plan to build strong, viable communities in the Riverina that will survive well into the future. Senator Rhiannon in in Hay and Mildura on 2-3 April for the Senate inquiry into the management of the Murray-Darling Basin.
Greens Senator and water spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young said:
"The Greens have been working hard to ensure there are improvements to the basin plan based on the best-available science because in its current form the draft does not give any assurance to communities and industries throughout the system.
Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon said:
"This month the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology's State of the Climate report was released, pointing to more serious global warming including more frequent and worsening droughts.
"The long term prosperity of towns such as Griffith and Wagga, and of course the Murray-Darling itself, demands a plan built on solid science.
"We need to return the right amount to the environment to build a healthy river, not rob it by allowing an additional 2,600 GL for groundwater extractions.
"The government need to explain why the plan recommends less than 2,750 gigalitres for the environment, when scientists recommend a minimum of 4000 to maintain a healthy river.
"With $9 billion of taxpayers' money at stake, the public at the very least deserves a plan based on solid and credible science.
Riverina Greens Convenor Kevin Poynter said:
"The long term survival of river communities such as Griffith has not been met by this draft plan.
"We need a plan that protects our river into the future, supports our natural environment, creates a vibrant economy, sustainable jobs and ensures a healthy river system for our kids.
"Of course this is difficult, but relying on the same old irrigation driven farming is not sustainable for the Riverina in the long term. We need to develop a plan that works in conjunction with other public policy to solve the problem.
"We need to build tourism and become a priority area for the national broadband network so that we can expand our economy and create jobs in the knowledge industries. In this transition, the government needs to work with people on the land to create a rural sector that is sustainable for our future.
"By planning to make the shift to new industries, which are less reliant on water, we are future proofing our community.
"Obviously communities like Griffith need solid support to make this transition, but it has to happen - this is what the science, our communities and our environment demands," Mr Poynter said.