The Senate today passed an Australian Greens motion condemning the decision by Environment Minister Peter Garrett to give approval to the Sugarloaf Pipeline under the provisions of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
"Peter Garrett's decision is a serious error which has major consequences for the water security of the threatened communities and environments of the Murray Darling Basin," said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.
"The combined pressures of climate change, extended drought and over-allocation of our limited shared water resources pose a very real threat to the viability and sustainability of the basin. With governments and communities across the basin working to reduce their dependency on the system, Minister Garrett's decision has the potential to wipe out that hard work."
The motion calls on all Governments to commit that no new projects or schemes that increase the level of dependence on the system, or the amount of water extracted from it, will be countenanced or approved.
"The audit report on the Victorian food-bowl project showed that there was no basis for the volumes of water Victoria claimed it could recover through efficiency measures - but the Minister's assessment appears to have simply taken these rubbery figures at face value," said Senator Siewert.
"The Greens are highly critical of the manner in which the environmental impact assessment for the pipeline has focused on the direct impacts on ecosystems in the path of the pipeline, without factoring in the consequences of removing more water from the Murray and of the additional greenhouse gasses created by the huge amount of energy required to pump this volume of water," she concluded.
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