Littleproud rules out widespread buybacks

Littleproud still wants states to join the water review "dance"


States should have nothing to fear from water review: Littleproud.

WATER REVIEW: According to federal Water Resources Minister David Littleproud, if the states have nothing to hide, "let's dance."

WATER REVIEW: According to federal Water Resources Minister David Littleproud, if the states have nothing to hide, "let's dance."

Federal Water Resources Minister David Littleproud says he respects the right of states to shun the Murray-Darling Basin Plan review, but hopes they'll still come on board.

The Victorian government reiterated its opposition to a review of water-sharing arrangements, which predate the Basin Plan, at this week's Brisbane Water Ministers' Council meeting.

Victoria's Water Minister Lisa Neville said the state remained opposed to the review, by interim Inspector-General Mick Keelty.

Read more: Concerns raised over state water sharing review

"I don't think a water share review, given most of the other states won't participating. is going to be worthwhile," Ms Neville said.

"I think it creates an expectation for people, who are doing it really tough, that there is water available, and it just isn't there."

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But Mr Littleproud said he'd made a commitment to irrigators, and intended to follow that through.

"We respect the sovereign right of those states not to cooperate, that's their right," Mr Littleproud said.

"This is about making sure there is open transparency to this, to draw a line around some of the myths and truths that need to be fixed, and we are not afraid to do that."

He said the states maintained that what they were doing, was right.

"It's a good opportunity to make sure that is truth tested to give that confidence to everybody, up and down the basin," he said.

"This is about getting trust, not only between farmers, but also between states.

"If the state agencies are confident they are doing everything right, then there should be no worries about shining a light in on it and having someone of integrity having a look at it and making sure they are above board."

"If they're so confident let the sun shine in, let him (Mick Keelty) have a look at it," he said.

The federal government would be drafting legislation, in the coming weeks.

"Federal government will be drafting legislation in the coming weeks.

"We need them (the states) to mirror that legislation if it's to have teeth."

He said there had been wrongdoing, in the Basin, since its inception.

"We will be going to every state, and asking them to co-operate - they can come forward, with, or without, the information - it's up to them.

"If you have nothing to hide, lets dance.

"There should be nothing to fear, from anybody."

Mr Littleproud said he believed the last 20 per cent of the water, which needed to be recovered under the Basin Plan, could be done so "without going near farmers and communities.'

"It can be done by backing ourselves with the infrastructure, to provide that last amount of water," he said.

Murray-Darling Basin residents simply wanted the Plan to be completed.

"They are fatigued, they have had a gutful, and simply want this over," he said.

450GL doubts

But he acknowledged there were some doubts as to whether the additional 450 gigalitres of environmental upwater, would be recovered by the 2024 deadline.

The additional 450GL is intended to push the overall Basin Plan to a 3200GL recovery level, to aid river health.

The 'recovery target' is 2750GL, which is the volume needed to limit irrigation take to 10,873GL (known as the sustainable diversion limit or SDL), deemed the maximum amount of water take within a sustainable, healthy river system.

Mr Littleproud agreed if projects were not found, it would be hard to acheive the additional 450GL by the deadline.

"That program has been out, advertised for some time," he said.

'"We haven't had much uptake, to be honest - there has been three parts of bugger all uptake.

"We can't force people to undertake infrastructure projects, to recover that 450."

He categorically ruled out large scale buybacks.

"We can complete the last 20pc with infrastructure projects, not with buybacks," he said.

"No-one wants buybacks, and what we are trying to avert is large scale buybacks, if the states don't complete the last 20pc with infrastructure projects.

"That's what we don't want to see - in NSW that is 287GL and I don't want to go anywhere near that."

The story Littleproud rules out widespread buybacks first appeared on Stock & Land.


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