Frogs First, People Second

18 May

Media Release – Senator Barnaby Joyce, 18 May 2011:

Frogs first, people second

The CEO of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Rob Freeman, confirmed today that economic, social and environmental factors are not given equal treatment under the Water Act in evidence given to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee today.

SENATOR BARNETT: Is it your understanding that the Water Act does not, I repeat does not, require the consideration of environment, social and economic considerations but only allows for the consideration of the environment, social and economic considerations?

MR FREEMAN: The Act requires the consideration of economic and social factors as well as environmental.

SENATOR BARNETT: But not on an equal basis?

MR FREEMAN: That’s correct.

“Both the former Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority have confirmed that the Act cannot deliver a Basin plan that compromises environmental outcomes based on social, economic or other considerations. That runs completely counter to the commitment by Labor and the Coalition to deliver a triple bottom line” said Senator Barnaby Joyce today.

“It’s abundantly clear that the Act as it stands determines environmental water flows first and then looks after people later. Last year the Guide produced a plan on that basis and there was a virtual riot. If we don’t change the Act, we won’t change the outcome. If we don’t change the map, we won’t change our destination.

“Barrister Josephine Kelly summed this up most succinctly when she gave a straight answer:

SENATOR JOYCE: What happens if there was a town, let’s say there was an environmental asset, I don’t know let’s call it a swamp and in the swamp there is a precious frog and just before the swamp with the precious frog is a town that has a rice mill. You say well the water that has to go to that swamp is 10 GL but that’s the amount of water unfortunately that we need for the rice mill. So now we have got a choice between the rice mill or the Ramsar convention area with the frogs. Who is going to win, the rice mill or the frogs?

MS KELLY: Under the Act, the frogs.

“While Labor won’t come clean with their legal advice, it’s clear now anyway that the Act needs to be rebalanced.

“If Labor won’t commit to make a serious effort to fix the problem, how can the 2 million people of the Basin trust them?”

More Information – Matthew Canavan 0458 709 433

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