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  • Rikki Lambert

Mallee independent questions Nationals' governing record

Sophie Baldwin (centre) with supporters in February

The National Party hit out across the weekend at the Albanese Labor Opposition's pledge to deliver 450 gigalitres under the Murray Darling Basin Plan to South Australia, claiming an alliance of Labor, the Greens and Independents were a threat to Basin food producers. An independent candidate in north western Victoria questioned the Nationals' own record on both water and governance.

On Friday after Mr Albanese's pledge in an Adelaide marginal seat alongside new SA Labor premier Peter Malinauskas, Mallee Nationals MP Anne Webster took to social media to denounce a potential 'Labor - Greens - Independent' alliance:

Water advocate Sophie Baldwin disavowed any links to a potential alliance with Labor and the Greens, saying:

"In my role in water advocacy over the last couple of years I can obviously see where the water issues are going and I'm certainly not a part of any water alliance at all."

Hear the full interview with Sophie Baldwin on the Flow podcast player:

Dr Webster also affirmed the comments of Nationals colleague and NSW senator Perin Davey, who posted on Facebook on Monday:

"And don’t think a vote for an independent will save you - they don’t govern."

Ms Baldwin took issue with the Nationals' own record of governance on water in the Murray Darling Basin:

"I fully understand the impacts of water on our farming community and irrigated agriculture...the basin plan has been implemented since 2012 and the Nats have been in government for a lot of that and they've done nothing to protect our irrigated agriculture." "It's [450 gigalitre buy-back Murray Darling Basin Plan] undeliverable, through the system, over the last 10 years we've had more damage done to the Murray River delivering these huge volumes of water downstream than we've seen in the last 100 years of regulation."

Ms Baldwin cited the long-running floodplain harvesting debate in the northern Basin as another instance of questionable water governance under the Nationals:

"I would say that the Nats don't govern for the people either, I've been involved in the last two years and all the Nats want to do is license the northern irrigators well above the legislated legal level of cap and we have no connected river system and a key principle of the basin plan is a connected river system, so who's supporting who here?" "There's a lot of pressure on the Nats and they're on the nose, there's no denying that - I've been out and about right across Mallee and people have had enough, they've [Nationals] had 74 years in the seat and it's just going nowhere."


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