National public water rights and environmental advocacy group Fair Water Use is encouragedby the broad recommendations made in the guide to the draft Basin Plan released earlier today by the Murray Darling Basin Authority, but is concerned that Federal and State parliamentarians will use the forthcoming consultation period to justify softening of the Plan for short term electoral advantage, rather than to promote the long term interests of the river system and its communities.
The group’s national coordinator, Ian Douglas, commented this afternoon, "The progressive degradation of the Murray-Darling cannot be resolved without significant impact upon those who were previously encouraged by successive governments to overexploit the waters of the nation’s most vital rivers."
Fair Water Use believes that Australian governments must shoulder much of the blame for the crisis, as a result of a raft of inept policies, including the hyper-allocation of Murray-Darling water, the COAG decision of 1994 to develop a national "water industry" and the promotion of agribusiness-based managed investment schemes.
"Basin communities have themselves been exploited by Federal and State administrations and the pro-market lobby and have every right to feel aggrieved", Dr Douglas added.
A politically fudged and compromised Basin Plan will be no friend to those who seek to make responsible use of Murray-Darling water. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority must be allowed to develop its Basin Plan free from pressure from those who fail to grasp, or choose to ignore, the profound, long term, economic, social and environmental implications of a degraded Murray-Darling river system.
"Governments must now devise concerted regional development initiatives, to enable Basin communities to transition to a sustainable future," Dr Douglas concluded.