Disenchanted as many voters may be with the state of Australian politics, South Australians need to be aware that a vote for Clive Palmer and the UAP would further endanger the state’s access to the water we deserve from the Murray-Darling.
Voters in SA should be in no doubt that wrecking the Murray Darling Basin Plan, as he recklessly proposes, would make SA worse off. It would be a disaster for the communities and businesses that rely on the river system.
The plan needs to be improved from the inside out, as I pointed out earlier this year (oped attached), however all major parties, the Coalition, Labor and the Greens, need to go much further than their current commitments.
Time is running out. It is critical that taxpayer funds are spent in the most cost-effective way to support the long-term sustainability of the system.
Merely committing to separate the Murray Darling Basin Authority into a regulator and authority, as Labor has done, is an essential first step, but not enough.
If public confidence up and down the system and the quality of environment of the basin are to be restored the next government must also commit to transparent, accountable decision-making.
The disgraceful example of Barnaby Joyce not undertaking an open-tender for buybacks in Kia Ora and Clyde must never happen again. The next government should undertake increased water buybacks to secure more water for the environment, but only under an open tender process.
The next government must take significant steps to restore public trust and confidence in the Plan. This will not be achieved without accurate water accounting and independent water audits using primary data collection.
It is unacceptable that in 2019 we simply do not know where billions of litres of water in the northern part of the system are going.
Finally, the next government must take serious steps to enable the Plan to adapt to the effects of climate change. Climate change is the single biggest threat to the sustainability of the Murray Darling Basin. Re-evaluation of water recovery targets for the environment as well as rigorous oversight and enforcement are all the more important in the face of our changing climate.
Voters should take all this into account as they weigh up their choices, but South Australians must be aware that a vote for Clive Palmer would be a vote for an even drier future for the families, businesses and environment of SA.