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OP-ED_ Water Royal Commission is the way forward

OP-ED_ Water Royal Commission is the way forward

Author: Kate Schwager/Wednesday, December 11, 2019/Categories: Boggabri, Narrabri, Wee Waa, Walgett

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Water Royal Commission is the way forward

Leaving the Basin Plan will not solve the issues we have with the allocation and management of water in this State. It will not see any more water in our rivers, or return any water back to farmers.

The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party have been calling for a Federal Royal Commission for over a year now, with the sole intent of untangling the mess water management is in.

The mismanagement of water is destroying our rivers, communities and industries. That’s why myself and Helen Dalton have been pushing hard on pausing the Basin Plan and conducting a Royal Commission.

As cross bench members we don’t have the power to sign a piece of paper and make a Federal Royal Commission happen. But we do have the ability to introduce legislation that will enable myself, as your representative, greater power to interrogate water management decisions and that’s exactly what I have done.

Last month I introduced legislation into the NSW Parliament that is part of a staged approach to addressing the problems we have with water management.

Importantly the Legislation brings water management decision making back to the 93 members elected to the NSW Parliament. This is important because at present the Premier carries majority of the powers when it comes to water, not the Deputy Premier or the Water Minister. The Premier has the ability to act outside the will of the people and the Parliament, this was evident in August this year.

In August the Premier signed an Intergovernmental Agreement that committed NSW to the next tranche of water reforms. Reforms the NSW Parliament had previously voted down as they were not in the interest of the State.

I’m not having a crack at the Premier, but I know people would want me to have the ability to debate what is in the best interests of the people in Barwon.

We need to bring water management and decision-making out from the shadows. We need to air the issues and the only way to do that properly is a Federal Royal Commission.

A Royal Commission that looks at the Barwon Darling Water Sharing Plan, its legality and impact on low flows; the releases from Menindee Lakes; and the ongoing impacts on fish.

Walking away from the Basin Plan isn’t the answer. A pause in the Plan and a Royal Commission is.

The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party are committed to fixing the Basin Plan. 
It's cost $13 billion of public money and we've spent $8 billion of it already. It’s a lot of 
public money spent without good outcomes for anyone.

Let’s stop the rhetoric about walking away from the plan and focus that energy on 
fixing it.

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