| May 10, 2018

Goulburn Valley needs a strong MDBP

The electorate of Murray is home to some of the most diverse and productive agricultural regions of anywhere in Australia, and right at the heart of the Goulburn Valley is irrigation. The Goulburn Valley is often referred to as the food bowl of Australia. Twenty-five per cent of Australia's agriculture comes from the Goulburn Valley and the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District: 28 per cent of our apples, 86 per cent of our pears, over 70 per cent of our peaches and up to a quarter of our total dairy production—all happening in the Goulburn Valley and the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District.

We had the minister there last week, and I congratulate him because of what he has been able to do with water policy. He's been able to bring the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which was on the brink of failure, back onto the table and now, all of a sudden, we have a plan that is still very much in progress.

The Northern basin review report was put forward to the parliament earlier this year and, unbelievably, Sarah Hanson-Young from the Greens moved a disallowance motion on the northern basin review. More unbelievable is the fact that the Labor Party then jumped ship, did an about-face and also supported a disallowance motion for a correction in the northern basin review. It was a 70-gigalitre correction. The Labor Party had been silent on this for about 12 months and then all of a sudden, at the last moment, jumped ship because they wanted to placate the interests of South Australia and the Batman by-election. It now seems that the Labor Party have changed back. It looks like they've done a deal and we are going to now have the northern basin review passed. It is very lucky for Victoria that the Victorian state government disagrees with Bill Shorten and Tony Burke. They disagree with the water policy of federal Labor. Thank goodness that state Labor have that difference of opinion with the people in the federal opposition with control of water.

Sitting at the kitchen tables we can see the uncertainty surrounding many of our agriculturalists. Certainly the 605 gigalitres, now that the SDLs are going to be approved, are going to be a real bonus. We'll be able to put concerns about water behind us. We still have an enormous fight on our hands with Labor and the Greens in relation to the 450 gigalitres upwater. This is a plan where effectively they want another 450 gigalitres of water taken out of active production, taken out of agriculture. They want to take this water for the environment without causing social and economic detriment. Anybody with any idea knows it cannot be done.

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