The NSW government says the state will not be able to meet Basin Plan timetables. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

Environment

Basin plan needs federal change: NSW govt

2020-06-20 19:04:57

The NSW government has threatened not to attend future ministerial council meetings with Murray-Darling Basin states if they’re not prepared to be honest.

NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey on Friday said the state will not be able to meet Basin Plan timetables and federal legislative change is needed.

“There is no plan that can be met, at this point, in 2024,” Ms Pavey told reporters in Sydney.

A media release from Ms Pavey said South Australia, Queensland and the ACT were unwilling to discuss amending the plan to adjust implementation time frames at a meeting on Friday.

“There is no point in having any more ministerial council meetings with the other states if they’re not prepared to be open and honest,” Ms Pavey said.

ACT’s Environment Minister Mick Gentleman said the plan can’t be changed by “lobbing in a thought bubble”.

“It’s time NSW stopped its stunts and set about delivering the commitments it has signed up to,” Mr Gentleman said in a statement on Friday.

Ms Pavey’s South Australian counterpart David Speirs said his state wanted to “just get on” with delivering the plan.

“NSW unsuccessfully tried to push back the deadline to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan by 2024,” SA’s Water and Environment Minister said in a statement on Friday.

“South Australia categorically rejected this last-minute attempt with the support of other jurisdictions and reaffirmed the need to just get on with the delivery of the plan.”

Ms Pavey said the federal water minister was “understanding and sympathetic” and NSW would continue to have conversations with him, as she expected Victoria would too.

The plan needed to be fixed at a federal level, Ms Pavey said.

“We want the federal government to take the opportunity to make changes, to make amendments to the plan that fit our communities,” she said.

“If they don’t, there is no plan. We’re not meeting the plan, because we won’t be able to meet those requirements that are in the legislation.”

Deputy Premier John Barilaro has repeatedly threatened to take NSW out of the water sharing agreement.