Basin Plan "Off the Rails"

As the deadline for public consultation on the draft Basin Plan draws near, twelve peak environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth, are increasingly frustrated that the Basin Authority seems unprepared to use the best-available science to fix the serious problems of the draft Plan. “Instead, they are persevering with a flawed process, incomplete data and limited modelling,” said Jonathan La Nauze, our Murray-Darling Campaigner.

We were among a group of environmental representatives that met with the Basin Authority on Thursday, in a last ditch attempt to get a commitmentfrom them they will fix key failings of the draft Plan including:

  • calculating the volume of water required to keep all key environmental sites healthy, as required by the Water Act 2007;
  • calculating or mitigate the loss of environmental flows due to climate change;
  • accounting for loss of environmental flows as a result of increasing groundwater extraction.

However,Basin Authority Chair Craig Knowles didn’t even attend the meeting and no new answers were forthcoming. Federal Water Minster Tony Burke needs to step in now to give clear signal to the Basin Authority that he will hold them accountable for creating a Plan that protects the unique ecosystems – forests, wetlands and threatened species – of the Murray Darling Basin.

ABC radio: Proposed Murray Darling plan draws fire from all sides
“We've tried to participate in good faith throughout the process and we've expected the authority to do the same. Unfortunately I think we've got to the point where we have to say this is not on track, in fact it's off the rails.” says Jonathan La Nauze

Read our Media Release here

Draft Basin Plan doesn’t meet its legal requirements

Today,the Environment Defenders Office released a 23-page report today that lists nine key points which it says makes the draft plan illegal under the Water Act 2007.

Legal issues highlighted in the report include:

  • The plan prioritises social and economic considerations and operational constraints above a sustainable extraction level.
  • The authority's decision to increase groundwater extraction by more than double current amounts does not align with the Act's precautionary principle.
  • The plan does not consider the impacts if upstream states are allowed to take their entire credit in one year and dramatically reduce available water for downstream users and ecosystems in low-flow years.
  • You can read the full report here

Adelaide Now: Experts say River Murray Plan illegal
“After meeting with the MDBA last week, we formed the opinion that they are not prepared to fix the serious problems” says Jonathan La Nauze