Loud SA voice needed in Basin Plan inquiry

South Australian stakeholders should make sure their voices are "loud and clear" about the future of the River Murray following the establishment of a new inquiry into the Murray Darling Basin Plan last week.

The Senate last week voted to establish the Select Committee on the Murray Darling Basin Plan to inquire into the impacts of the Plan and associated Commonwealth programs on regional communities.

Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston, a member of the new select committee, said she expected to see many submissions from South Australian stakeholders.

"The river is a critically important natural resource for our State and it’s in our best interests to ensure its sustainability, not only as an iconic environmental asset but as the economic lifeblood of South Australia," Senator Ruston said.

"The Coalition Government is committed to the full implementation of the Basin Plan by its target date of 2019 and is taking a balanced approach to obtaining water for environmental flows to ensure the long-term viability of irrigation industries and the regional communities which rely upon them.

"The Government has followed through on its election commitment by introducing legislation which will cap water buybacks from irrigators at 1500 gigalitres. Water beyond that figure must be obtained via infrastructure efficiency improvements, which constitute an investment in the sustainability of river communities.

"It’s very important for South Australia that the committee hear from stakeholders about the need for the Basin Plan to conserve RAMSAR-listed environmental assets like the Lower Lakes, the Coorong and Chowilla. The committee also needs to hear how South Australian river communities are adjusting to a future with less water with the assistance of Federal Government programs like the SA River Murray Sustainability (SARMS) program.

"Perhaps most importantly, the committee needs to hear why a truly national approach to managing the Basin’s water – in the form of the Basin Plan – is so important to the State which lies at the end of the Murray-Darling system.

"No State relies on a healthy Murray-Darling Basin like South Australia, and that’s why it’s crucial our voice is heard loudly and clearly."

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