Communities at risk

SENATE: The fate of the Northern Basin hangs in the balance.
SENATE: The fate of the Northern Basin hangs in the balance. Katrina Ayers

THE Senate has delivered a devastating blow to the Western Downs, with news that the Upper House of the Federal Government passed a disallowance motion on the Northern Basin Review.

The Murray-Darling Basin's amendment - which recommended the initial recovery target in the Northern Basin be downgraded by 70 gigalitres, from 390GL to 320GL - was adopted by the Coalition Government, however the Greens brought a blocking motion, which was backed by Labor and the Nick Zenophon Team, that prevents the reduction coming into effect.

The Senate voted 32-30 to disallow the amendment.

Warrego MP Ann Leahy said state and federal Labor politicians should hang their heads in shame for failing to defend Queensland farmers.

"Not only has federal Labor leader Bill Shorten not stood up for Queensland farmers, jobs and communities, but there's been total radio silence from Annastacia Palaszczuk and her water minister Anthony Lynham as well,” she said.

"Labor's decision to vote with the Greens will kill more jobs in Northern Basin communities and yet not a word from Queensland Labor.

"For goodness sake, two-thirds of Queensland is still drought-declared and our Premier thinks it's okay to take water away from Queensland communities.”

Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said the future of Western Downs communities and producers had been put at risk.

"The Senate's decision undermines the confidence in the entire Murray-Darling water allocation process,” he said.

"The radical intervention of the Senate puts at risk the future of communities and producers in the Western Downs that are reliant on water. Politics seems to be overriding common sense.”

Cr McVeigh said the proposed changes to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan would have seen the region maintain its level of access to water, helping the region's agricultural industry expand and deliver higher quality produce.

"Our agriculture industry is the backbone of our region and we want to see our communities benefit from the plan, not take a step backwards,” he said.

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