Labor says Berejiklian Government Minister Melinda Pavey must not approve out of date Water Sharing Plans (WSP) for 19 NSW water catchment areas, because they fail to acknowledge droughts over the last 20 years.
Water sharing plans are regional rules that manage environmental flows and how much water gets allocated to irrigators over a 10 year period.
Labor Shadow Minister for Water, Clayton Barr said: “Melinda Pavey is trying to extend these Water Sharing Plans for 10 years, without learning from the past 20 or so years of drought data.
“This means that the plans will ignore everything from the Millennium drought to now. I can’t believe anyone would support this. So how is it that the Liberal and National Party’s live in an alternate universe?
“Over the past 12 months we have heard the Premier, Deputy Premier and Water Minister all declaring recent droughts ‘unprecedented’ and the ‘worst on record’, but now those very same 3 people are about to approve water plans that will cover the next 10 years of water sharing, and they are going to pretend that the recent drought never happened.
“How can regional NSW hope to ever get ahead of drought when the Berejiklian Government has its head buried in some very dry sand?”
Labor is accusing Ms Pavey of attempting to “tick and flick” the Water Sharing Plans in order to rush through the long overdue Water Resource Plans (WRP), required under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement following threats from the Morrison Government to cut funding from NSW.
“Water Sharing Plans are essentially the foundation of Water Resource Plans. But despite several deadline extensions, since 2015 the Berejiklian Government has failed to deliver on these plans,” Mr Barr said.
“Now Ms Pavey’s scrambling to make up for years of laziness. In order to stop funding getting cut from NSW because the Berejiklian Government didn’t submit its plans, Ms Pavey says she’ll rush through dangerously inaccurate water plans by the end of next month. This careless approach to her responsibilities will leave farmers and our regions in the lurch.”
“Everyone in NSW needs water decisions to be based on facts, records and science. This is only way that we can plan properly for communities, the environment and farmers. Without using the facts the Berejiklian Government is signing up to a fairy tale.”
The NSW Parliament is expected to debate Ms Pavey’s failure as a Minister and these dangerously out of date water plans in the Legislative Council on Tuesday night.
The Water Sharing Plans Ms Pavey will rush through by the end of June are:
1. Water Sharing Plan for the Murrumbidgee Regulated River
2. Water Sharing Plan for the Murray and Lower Darling Regulated River
3. Water Sharing Plan for the Upper and Lower Namoi Regulated River
4. Water Sharing Plan for the Gwydir Regulated River
5. Water Sharing Plan for the Lachlan Regulated River
6. Water Sharing Plan for the Macquarie and Cudgegong Regulated Rivers
7. Water Sharing Plan for the Lachlan Alluvium Water Sources
8. Water Sharing Plan for the Upper & Lower Namoi Alluvium Water Sources
9. Water Sharing Plan for the NSW MDB Fractured Rock Water Sources
10. Water Sharing Plan for the Murrumbidgee Alluvium Water Sources
11. Water Sharing Plan for the Murray Alluvium Water Sources
12. Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Border Rivers Regulated Water Sources
13. Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Border Rivers Alluvium Water Sources
14. Water Sharing Plan for the NSW GAB Shallow Water Sources
15. Water Sharing Plan for the NSW MDB Porous Rock Water Sources
16. Water Sharing Plan for the Gwydir Alluvium Water Sources
17. Water Sharing Plan for the Macquarie Castlereagh Alluvium
18. The Water Sharing Plan for the Darling Alluvium Water Sources will commence in 2020 as a result of brining groundwater resources currently under the Barwon Darling and Unregulated Lower Darling and Alluvium water sharing plans under one water sharing plan
19. Water Sharing Plan for the Peel River Regulated Water Sources.