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Murray-Darling Basin: cooperative federalism? « Previous | |Next »
March 6, 2009

Finally SA says that it will legally act on the decline of the Murray River caused by over allocated water licences and the protection of irrigation industry by state governments. This picks up on the way that the Rudd Government's co-operative federalism and the national management of the river system is under threat by the current action of the states. Lawrence Springborg has suggested that a Liberal National Party government would pull Queensland out of the deal should it win the state election on March 21.

South Australia is now saying it will go to the High Court to force states upstream to release water and pay damages under section 92of the Constitution. This targets Queensland, NSW and Victoria over water trading restrictions and SA will use the law to force them to release permanent water flows into the river and to seek damages for the harm caused by SA.

The specific target is Victoria's insistence on a cap for licensed water trading out of its jurisdiction, even though this is to rise from 4 per cent to 6 per cent this year under the COAG deal. Victoria's refusal to abolish the cap for another four years was a "barrier" to rescuing the river. It is also a barrier to interstate trade Victoria argues that easing the cap on permanent water trading out of irrigation districts would destroy farming in Victoria.

Jamie Walker in The Australian says:

Right back to square one, with the nation's greatest river system dying and the premiers bickering over who should control what remains of it.....Rann's nakedly cynical gambit makes a mockery of Rudd's co-operative federalism and should be called for what it is: an exercise in the parochial, petty politics that were supposed to have been taken off the table when the states agreed to refer their powers over the Murray-Darling to a new, commonwealth-backed authority and trouser the billions Canberra threw at them.

Pressure does need to be applied as the Rudd Government has done a deal with Victoria and tacitly supported the artificial barriers imposed on water trading.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:25 AM | | Comments (3)


Springborg is a bit of an unknown quantity at the moment. Hard to decifer what is real policy ideas and what is rambling on the run.
I think he does actually have a farming background so one would assume he knows the value of water.

Looks like the voters up here are buying the new brand so look out.

Charles I read that. It's a standard Melbourne line by the economic utilitarians. The interests of the minority should be sacrificed for the majority interest. That is the true pathway to happiness--the greatest good for the greatest number.