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LIBERAL-NATIONAL GOVERNMENT DENIES OPPORTUNITY FOR ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN
Kate Schwager

LIBERAL-NATIONAL GOVERNMENT DENIES OPPORTUNITY FOR ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN

The Liberal-National Government has denied regional communities the opportunity for transparency, voting down a motion for a Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. 

The motion introduced by the Shadow Minister for Water, Clayton Barr to Parliament last night called on the Liberal-National Government to “endorse the position of the NSW National Party Leader and Deputy Premier for a Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin Plan for the purpose of openness, transparency and accountability”.

The motion was defeated by three votes (47-44), with Labor and the crossbench voting for it with and The Nationals joining the Liberals to defeat it.

“It was disappointing that the Government hasn’t taken the opportunity to honour the calls from regional NSW for a Royal Commission,” Member for Barwon Roy Butler said. 

“There are many problems with aspects of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, especially the Barwon Darling Water Sharing Plan. Problems with the way it was developed, and the way the government implemented it.

“My constituents rightfully insist on answers, accountability and resolution of these poor decisions,” Mr Butler said.

“Last night was an opportunity for the Government to draw a line in the sand. To support an inquiry, and start addressing the legitimate concerns of the people of Barwon.” 

Member for Murray Helen Dalton said it exposes the Leader of The Nationals John Barilaro’s rank hypocrisy.

“It beggars belief that the Deputy Premier would tell people in Menindee that we need a royal commission, then vote against it in Parliament,” Mrs Dalton said.

“All we needed was two Nationals to put their money where their mouth is, and support this important motion.”

Mrs Dalton also questioned Mr Barilaro’s “sudden change of heart” on South Australia’s Lower Lakes.

“I’d been screaming about South Australian water wastage for years. But the Nationals always defended it.”

“Barilaro's government drained the Menindee Lakes and sent seven years supply of drinking water to South Australia.”

Mrs Dalton said talk of South Australia is a distraction. 

“The media has just published results of a Natural Resources Commissioner report, which shows National Party water sharing rule changes allowed over-extraction in the Northern Basin, crippling communities in the south and bringing on drought three years early,” Mrs Dalton said.

“So naturally, John Barilaro just wants to talk about South Australia.

“But we really need to address the problems at both ends of the Murray-Darling Basin.

“That’s why we need a royal commission now.”

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