What is the Plan for the Plan?

What is the Plan for the Plan?

5.11.2012 - Posted by Kane Travis
Like many people I have been trying to read between the lines to figure out what is happening with the Basin Plan. It has moved into a political realm which is way over my head, but we do appear to be getting close.

The announcement of a 3200 GL return to the environment was made by the Federal Government in early October, up from 2750 GL. This brought on the expected tirade from Victoria and NSW, with their main salvo fired on the flooding of private land issue. The 3200 GL figure was based on new modelling which showed that if some of the infrastructure constraints were removed or rules relaxed, the environmental flows achieved would meet almost all the environmental targets, particularly in South Australia which is particularly vulnerable.

Interestingly, analysis showed that the majority of the expected flooding (~84%) would occur on grazing land – exactly the type of land that benefits from flooding (it is why floodplains are so productive). At the same time, the Prime Minister announced a big (well let’s say very big) carrot of $1.77 billion over the next 10 years to invest into infrastructure, including on-farm efficiencies.

But removing many of the constraints would require changes in policy, potentially legislation, and a high level of cooperation and willingness from the states. In late October Tony Bourke issued a range of amendments to the plan, where it was again revised back down to 2750 GL, and provided a range of technical comments on its operation. Smart politics perhaps, or a rapid retreat?

The latest news is that the Basin Plan will likely be tabled before Parliament rises on November 29.

The Basin Plan represents one of the most significant environmental initiatives in Australia’s history. My vote is we just move to get it through parliament and keep the door open to the science and social impacts as we refine it in the years to come.

Murray River