| June 19, 2018
On Friday, 8 June, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, hosted MINCO here in Canberra. This was attended by the water ministers of the Murray-Darling states of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. One of the biggest issues has been the definition of the term, 'neutral or improved socioeconomic outcomes' as stated in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in relation to the delivery of 450 gigalitres of up water.
This definition sits in the plan in section 717. Clearly, the definition is an economic test only. In plain English, the definition of 'socioeconomic' in the Cambridge dictionary is related to differences between groups of people caused mainly by their financial situation. It has now been accepted that a definition has to be acknowledged as including the impact of communities, towns and regions.
Now the intent of the plan has to be thought through and we have to deliver on what was the intent of the plan, as read out by Tony Burke in this place, then the minister for water, and as put into the Hansard by the opposition leader Barnaby Joyce. With the Murray-Darling Basin Plan coming to its seventh year, hindsight now shows that considerable negative socioeconomic impacts have been caused. We now have an opportunity to secure the future of the irrigators of the Murray-Darling Basin, and this flow-on effect will make sure we secure the growth of the nation.