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  • Rikki Lambert

Court challenge on Murray-Darling Basin plan in 2022 - if SA Labor wins the election

Mr Malinauskas and Dr Close upon taking Labor's leadership reins in 2018

The South Australian Labor Opposition want to mount a High Court challenge to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to get a better deal for South Australia, if Peter Malinauskas' party can secure government at the March 2022 state election.

Labor deputy leader Dr Susan Close told Flow listeners the upstream states were laughing at SA water minister David Speirs for being a pushover in Basin negotiations:

“I think what happens is David Speirs goes to the ministerial council meetings and then as soon as he leaves, the other states have a bit of a laugh about South Australia just copping anything that they give them.”

Listen to the full interview on the FlowNews24 podcast app below:

Labor announced on Monday it wanted an independent commissioner for the River Murray to ensure the Basin Plan is delivered on time and in full, with Dr Close explaining the SA Royal Commission report was the roadmap for delivery:

“We’re announcing plans for the River Murray if we win the next election that’s due up in March and one of the features of that is we’d like to see a Commissioner for the Murray appointed – someone who sort of sits above politics, can report directly to parliament, work with irrigators and importantly be a very strong voice on our behalf with the other States.”
“The Royal Commission report on the River Murray was an absolute gift for South Australia; it gave us so many strong arguments and actions to get the water down the Murray and yet the Marshall Government sadly has largely ignored it.”

Dr Close was sharply critical of SA Liberal water minister David Speirs, claiming the Royal Commission report backed her claims:

“I think that’s because the Royal Commission criticised David Speirs, said that he capitulated to Eastern States’ interest instead of standing up for South Australia and I think that’s embarrassed the Marshall Government.”
“What we’d like to see is every recommendation of that report acted on, we would like to see taking legal advice on action to get the water that we are owed by the other states, we need to start muscling up as a State and giving into the other states, giving into the National Party running water federally just isn’t working for us.”

Among the detriments of the Nationals' control of water policy, Dr Close said, was their ban on further buyback of water for the environment from farmers who were 'willing sellers'.

The Labor environment spokesperson acknowledged that the Royal Commission report had identified that the Basin Plan did not adequately factor in climate change's impact on future water availability.

Dr Close said SA needed to 'muscle up' its view on the Basin Plan and begin a High Court challenge, saying the federal government was making too many concessions to NSW.

The SA water minister was contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline.


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