Crisis over the Murray Darling explained - 9News  2/14/2018 11:04:00 PM   



* The Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) is a landmark bipartisan agreement reached between the federal government and four states to manage the water in a system made up of the Murray and Darling rivers.

* It was signed into law by the Gillard Labor government in 2012.

* The Murray-Darling Basin covers one-seventh of the Australian continent, accounts for one-third of its agricultural production and is home to two million people.

* It includes 77,000km of rivers and more than 25,000 wetlands.


* On Wednesday night, the federal government failed to stop a joint effort by Labor, Greens and Nick Xenophon Team to block its amendments to the MDBP in the Senate.

* That government wanted changes to the plan that would have reduced the amount of water being returned to the environment in southern Queensland and northern NSW.

* The disallowance motion was narrowly carried 32 votes to 30.


* The outcome has divided 'upwater' states and 'downwater' jurisdictions.

* Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville says the plan is over for her state.

* NSW has also threatened to pull out.

* The federal government is concerned Queensland will follow their lead and the entire MDBP will unravel.


* The federal government wants to reduce the amount of water it acquires for the environment in the Northern Basin by 70 gigalitres (equivalent to 400 Olympic swimming pools), supplying more to irrigators and reducing pressure on farmers.

* The Victorian and NSW state governments want those amendments to ensure jobs for their states' irrigators.

* Labor wants an additional 450GL of water allocated to return to the environment, and assurances regarding the health of the river and tackling allegations of corruption.

* South Australia says it was the promise of this extra 450GL that convinced it to sign on to the plan in the first place.

* The Greens want an independent audit to crack down on corruption and water theft allegations, greater community consultation and consideration of environmental impacts.


* Federal water minister David Littleproud - "I'm reaching out as the minister to get calm, to try and put this back on track. But unfortunately, I think a lot of damage has been done."

* Labor leader Bill Shorten - "I think there's a deal to be done. I think that people of goodwill can make it work but the government really has left it at five minutes to midnight."

* NSW water minister Niall Blair - "This move makes the basin plan untenable for NSW."

* Victorian water minister Lisa Neville - "We said if these motions get disallowed the plan is over. It's not walking away, the plan is over."

* SA water minister Ian Hunter - "Victoria and NSW are trying to ... get a better deal for themselves and cut the South Australian component right out and we just won't stand for it."


* Federal water minister David Littleproud is in damage control, seeking to contact and calm his state counterparts.

* The coalition can reintroduce its amendments via regulation at a later date but the Senate has now sent a clear message - future efforts will require government compromise.

© AAP 2018

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