‘Back our Basin’ demands NSW opposition

NSW Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan has questioned why the state opposition has decided to oppose the Murray Darling Basin plan.

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Mr Whan said the NSW Coalition said nothing when the former federal government set up the process, which resulted in the Murray-Darling water allocation guide.

“That Murray Darling Basin legislation was put in by a Coalition government in Canberra,” Mr Whan told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

‘Back our Basin’

Whan was reacting to the NSW Coalition’s is new campaign – called “Back Our Basin” – opposing the controversial federal water plan for the Murray Darling Basin.

The shadow cabinet has approved a policy to remove the guide for a draft Murray Darling Basin plan, released earlier this month, and start a new one.

They want the eventual draft plan to give equal weight to economic and social factors as well as environmental factors.

“The draft Murray Darling plan doesn’t do that – it primarily focuses on the environmental factors,” a spokeswoman for National MP Andrew Stoner told AAP.

The opposition is also calling for the extension of the NSW Water Sharing Plans, which aim to regulate allocation of water between the environment and water users, to be timed to coincide with those in Victoria.

“We’d be going to COAG (the Council of Australian Governments) and saying we need to extend NSW to the same as Victoria so they’re not disadvantaged,” the spokeswoman said.

“At the moment the farmers in NSW are at a considerable disadvantage.”

Irrigators not happy with cuts

The federal government has faced opposition from irrigators since the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s guide recommended cuts of 27 to 37 per cent in water allocations to irrigators.

Irrigators have predicted 800 full-time jobs and $805 million of annual agricultural production would be lost if the minimum 3000 gigalitres of water a year was taken back.

The NSW Coalition, which is widely expected to win the state election in March next year, will start its media campaign next week.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan has questioned why the state opposition has decided to oppose the

Murray Darling Basin plan.

Mr Whan said the NSW Coalition said nothing when the former federal government set up the process, which resulted in the Murray-Darling water allocation guide.

“That Murray Darling Basin legislation was put in by a Coalition government in Canberra,” Mr Whan told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.