Independent Member for Murray Helen Dalton is closely scrutinising the NSW Government's decision-making process in relation to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan after presenting a new bill in the state's parliament last week.
Dalton appeared on the Country Viewpoint radio program this week to highlight that the state government must "stand up for rural communities" by not approving the sale of water entitlements as proposed by the Federal Labor Government.
"This bill, the water, most water entitlements fit in within New South Wales Government, in other words they approve the sale of water entitlements and I was asking the New South Wales Government to not approve, or I suppose move that water to the Commonwealth unless it meets the socio-economic test... and to stand up for rural communities," Dalton said.
"We know that every drop that leaves our districts and our rural areas leads to hardships, so it gives the government an excuse to, you know, close our schools and cut our health services, then the banks decide that they're going to shut the doors and leave our town.
"If they were to abide by this socio-economic neutrality test, I would think that there would be no water in the Southern Connected System or the seat of Murray, that would be eligible to be transferred and I'm asking Chris Minns (the NSW Premier) and the government not to transfer the water to the Commonwealth unless it does meet that, and there is that socio-economic test and there are benefits for that water moving to South Australia."
Dalton said consequences for businesses in river towns with generational legacies would be grave should water entitlements be sold.
"People can still trade their water to the farmer next door or even indeed to other districts around but not to the Commonwealth, once that water leaves our areas it'll never come back, it'll go every year, it'll be washed out to sea through South Australia," Dalton said.
"We know that we are the powerhouse of agriculture here and that removing another 450 gigalitres of water is just going to be a tipping point for many of those staple intergenerational businesses such as dairying and annual cropping."
Dalton called on the NSW Premier, Chris Minns to challenge the new bill introduced by the federal Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, largely because of her concerns for the aquatic life of the river system.
"The states should stand up to the Commonwealth to tend to Plibersek's new bill which obviously has gone through but there's still time for Chris Minns to stand up to her and say enough is enough, find your water another way and that could be looking at environmental outcomes rather than just a volume of water going down," Dalton said.
"We of course have a massive problem with carp in our rivers, I think every day I hear or I get video from somebody in the electorate talking about how bad the carp is in the Lachlan, in the Bidgee, in the Murray - they're full of carp and this is impacting of course on water quality and impacting on the native fish."