Ley fights buybacks

By Southern Riverina News

Sussan Ley has passionately used Finley as an example of a town suffering the socio-economic impacts of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

On Thursday in the House of Representatives, the Member for Farrer spoke against a motion proposed by Labor to cap water buybacks.

In a direct attack against an interjecting Member for Watson Tony Burke, Ms Ley told him to ‘‘walk down the main street of Finley’’.

‘‘Anyone who is affected (by the MDBP) directly as to their livelihood, their business, their family or their community by this plan ... hates it at worst,’’ Ms Ley said.

‘‘For the member for Watson to talk about how this is good for communities and how this will work for communities is absolute nonsense.

‘‘Walk down the main street of Finley. Look at the number of shops that have closed.

‘‘Go to the high school. Talk to the kids. Listen to the stories.

‘‘Understand that farmers are watching what is notionally a healthy river run straight past their doorstep, taking the water past their region.

‘‘Their allocation is zero. That’s right — zero.

‘‘We have to accept that the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder knows exactly what they’re doing with all this environmental water.

‘‘Not one drop was able to be borrowed by irrigators through a sensible proposal I put forward last year to allow them to finish growing their winter crops and grow food to feed the rest of the country that was struggling with drought.’’

Ms Ley said ‘‘her constituents face an awful reality if there’s a change of government’’.

‘‘What I care about is the media release put out by the member for Watson only five days ago and the ensuing change to Labor Party policy on what, as our minister has just enunciated, was clearly bipartisan. So the media release that Labor has put out says.

‘‘ It says, ‘Labor is committed to restoring the Murray Darling Basin. Two changes made by the coalition are going to be undone’.

‘‘One is the cap on buybacks and the second is a change to the socio-economic definition for delivering the 450 gigalitres of water for the environment.

‘‘So those two things have now been picked up by Labor as a change in their policy.

‘‘For them, it will go back to what we all call the bad old days of buyback.

‘‘That’s because the buyback was completely non-strategic. It was completely haphazard.

‘‘It divided communities, it divided irrigators and ... it divided the country.’’