| August 09, 2017

Matter of Public Importance MDBP

It's very clear in water policy within the Murray-Darling Basin that it's the Labor Party that have absolutely no credibility in this issue. When we are trying to find a balance between environmental outcomes and productive agriculture, it's the Labor Party that have no understanding of the balance. It's the Labor Party that have been unable to identify what are the environmental outcomes that they want to achieve? It's the Labor Party and their leadership that have said: we need an amount of water; we do not care where the water comes from; we just need an amount of water.

Some of the environmental outcomes that are listed in the plan are things those opposite like. They want to keep the Murray mouth open, which is something that is totally unnatural—naturally closed up and opened up and closed up and opened up with the rainfall.

Mr Burke interjecting—

Mr DRUM: You come into my patch. Those opposite also want to keep Alexandrina and Albert fresh and other places. They are totally unnatural objectives that are in their environmental outcomes. Come into my patch and explain to the irrigators that have lost thousands of gigalitres. You are not welcome back, by the way, Mr Burke. The member for Watson is not welcome back.

Mr Burke: You just told me to come back. Are you arguing with me?

Mr DRUM: I would love you to come in. I was also at the hotel in Shepparton last week when the Deputy Prime Minister was there. Unfortunately the ABC report just happened to miss the first part of his address to the crowd, where he said that if you are stealing anything, you need to be dealt with by the full force of the law. He said that whether you're stealing sheep or you're stealing cattle, whether you're stealing petrol in drive-aways or you're stealing water, you need to be dealt with appropriately. But unfortunately the reporters just happened to leave that little bit out, and they happened to concentrate on the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister was trying to talk to the people about the quantum of water that we're actually dealing with here. As Minister Hartsuyker put this together, it's 32,000 gigalitres in the entire basin. There is 32,000 gigalitres in the entire basin; 7,000 actually rush over the barrages out to sea. We're talking about class A water in the Barwon area of 10 gigs. We're talking about allegations of less than one half of one gig.

We don't know whether those allegations are true or not, but here are the Labor Party grandstanding to their hearts' desire, and they're accusing us of having a lack of integrity. This is one of the greatest witch-hunts of all time. There is no integrity in the Labor Party when it comes to trying to find an accurate balance of environmental water and productive agricultural water. It simply doesn't come into the equation—don't worry!

Here we are being lectured about water in the Murray-Darling Basin by a member whose electorate is in the centre of Sydney. Everyone else in the basin who wants to talk about water comes from South Australia. They themselves are not prepared to give up one more drop of water. To them, to deliver 450 gigalitres of up water for this last-minute deal that was put into the Murray-Darling Basin—if it can be proven that there's not going to be any social or economic detriment to the communities or to the individuals; if you can prove all that. The Minister for Water and the River Murray from South Australia knows that he cannot deliver any more water. His issues are no different to those of the people in my electorate, and they know that they cannot deliver any. They're the ones that have sacrificed all the water so far. They're the ones that have made the sacrifices. The irrigators and whole communities have made the sacrifices so far to make the Murray-Darling Basin Plan get to the stage where it is nearly complete.

I think Senator Leyonhjelm had a good line. He had a fantastic description of South Australian members of parliament. To think that there's another 450 gigalitres of water just sitting out there that can be flushed down the river without any serious detriment, personal hardship or community hardship, you've got to be living somewhere like Sydney or Adelaide. I just want to make sure that there is ample confidence that the independent regulators of the basin are going to be doing their job. They're already prosecuting hundreds of people for suspected breaches, and they will continue to do that work.

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