An agreement to secure water for the Sunraysia must be reached when Basin Ministers meet in Canberra for the next Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting on Sunday.
Earlier this month, the Victorian Government made the long overdue decision to intervene in the rapid growth of new permanent plantings in the lower Murray region by referring all water extraction licence applications to the Minister for the next 12 months.
In Mildura today, Shadow Minister for Water Steph Ryan said Victoria going it alone will not deliver water security for Sunraysia irrigators.
“Without agreement from New South Wales and South Australia, the Andrews Labor Government’s move will do nothing but drive development out of Victoria and over the river,” Ms Ryan said.
“It’s up to the Andrews Labor Government to step up at the next meeting of Basin Ministers and convince South Australia and New South Wales to also take control of irrigation development in the lower Murray.
“We’ve known for years that the gap between the water available in dry years and what the horticulture industry demands is shrinking and putting the pressure on other industries at times when resources are scarce.
“But the Andrews Labor Government dragged its feet on the issue, refusing to act while the situation worsened for Victorian irrigators.
“The Ministerial Council must also address significant concerns on the management of the Lower Lakes and recent reports questioning South Australia’s arguments that Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert are predominately freshwater lakes.
“There are justifiable concerns that South Australia’s arguments are ones based on political expediency rather than science that Basin Ministers must not ignore.”