The Commonwealth Water Act and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan were made under Liberal and Labor Water Ministers. In 2015, the federal water ministry was handed to the National Party. The Water portfolio was moved out of the environment department and into the agriculture department. The Nationals consistently move to undermine and wreck the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Problem

  1. National party control of the federal water ministry has seen water policy became more biased in favour of irrigation interests and the emphasis on environmental water recovery under the Basin Plan has rapidly diminished.
  2. The government put an end to all water buybacks — the most cost-effective means of water recovery for the environment, in favour of increasingly expensive off-farm projects favouring irrigation interests.
  3. The Nationals have consistently attacked the Basin Plan and threatened to walk away from it and cut water recovery for the environment.
  4. The Nationals have consistently favoured proposals for new dams, irrespective of cost, financial viability, environmental damage and community opposition. Dams don’t make water, they interfere with natural flows and change how and where water is available as well as to whom.
  5. Despite a government ban on purchasing water for the environment, the Nationals water minister paid an exorbitant price for water that exists only occasionally and only in exceptionally wet years, when it is least needed.

The Solutions

  1. Political Leadership that looks after the broader public interest – not vested interests.
  2. The water ministry must be separated from the agriculture department
    and returned to the environment department.
  3. Abandon all proposals for new and enlarged public dams in the Murray-Darling Basin.


Download the PDF