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Murray Darling Basin plan demands proper scrutiny: Greens

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 17 Oct 2008

The Australian Greens today accused Water Minister, Penny Wong of being disingenuous in blaming the delay of national water legislation on the Greens.

"The fact of the matter is that Federal and State Governments have been slow to reach agreement, and slow to get legislation into our State and Federal Parliaments," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"It is nonsensical to blame the Greens for the government's failure to meet its own deadline when we are aware that it is unlikely that either Victoria or Queensland will enact the enabling State legislation this Bill requires before the deadline."

"It is totally inappropriate for the Rudd Government to expect the Senate to rubber stamp over 300 pages of legislation addressing the future sustainability and use of the Murray Darling Basin without proper scrutiny," she said.

"Presenting complex legislation at the very last minute with no previous consultation is not the way to do business if you want to meet a deadline."

The Greens are concerned that this legislation will not deliver the reform needed to solve the Murray Darling crisis. Serious shortcomings include: the level of independence of the authority, the slow timetable for the development and implementation of the basin plan, the lack of a baseline environmental water allocation and a mechanism for monitoring and managing river health, and the fact that the 4% cap on trade is still in place.

"The Greens have referred this legislation to committee for a short inquiry reporting on 19th November. This is a very tight timeframe to deal with such a crucial issue."

"Poor governance and inadequate legislation is what has created the problem in the basin. This is our chance to get it right - let's do it properly," she concluded.

For more information or media enquiries please call Tim Norton on 0418 401 180

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