Australian Greens leader Senator Christine Milne, and Greens spokesperson for the Murray Darling Basin, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young held a press conference to respond to the Murray Darling Basin Authority report.
Please see the transcript of their statements below. The audio file provides the full audio with the questions and answers.
All Australians love the Murray River, and for a long time have been worried about the decline of the river system.
Only a few years ago at the height of the drought people were so saddened to see not only the loss of the ecosystem around the river but also what it was doing to communities.
The Murray Darling Basin plan at the very least ought to have taken into account the trends, particularly in relation to climate change and extreme weather events and the likelihood of more droughts into the future, to actually look at how do we restore the health of the river for the longer term. How do we take into account the science, how do we take into account what that river system is going to have to put up with and the resilience we are going to need to deal with these trends.
Tragically what has been taken into account will not save the river, will not sustain the river into the longer term and does not bring the resilience that's going to be necessary for the extreme droughts that will come in future years.
The Murray Darling Basin Plan as handed down by the authorities today fails the river, it fails South Australia, it fails the communities that rely on it, and unfortunately looks set to fail in the courts as well.
When the draft plan was first released the Greens raised serious concerns about the fact that 2750 gigalitres was not enough to save the river system. It is far less than what science tells us we need to give the river a fighting chance.
4000 gigalitres at the very least is what is required if we are to save the Murray Darling Basin for the future.
And this plan as announced and released by the authorities fails to deliver enough water for the river.
2750 gigalitres is not enough and throughout this plan it is riddled with ways to reduce even that figure. Throughout this plan it is riddled with ways to give the environment even less than that 2750 gigalitre figure.
There's increasing groundwater extractions which is a major concern; there is no ability to adapt for climate change in the plan; it fails to recognise that the best bang for the buck for the Australian taxpayer is buy back water and give it to the river as needed in order to tackle over allocation.
The plan fails to do this.
We call on Tony Burke today, minister for water, to reject this plan and to come back to the table with the ability and desire for a plan that will actually save the river for the future, give our communities security, and ensure that we actually tackle what has been a generation- long issue over the sharing of water and the fact that we need to build resilience and security for our communities right throughout the system.
This plan does not deliver what the environment needs. It fails the river and will fail in the courts.