Debate on the future of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been delayed amid ongoing negotiations between the Federal Government and Labor.
The Greens are seeking to block Government changes to the plan, to reduce the amount of water being returned to the environment in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Today is the last day for the Senate to consider the Greens’ disallowance motion, and debate was due to begin at 9:30am.
However, the ABC understands that has been delayed until later in the day, likely after Question Time, as talks continue between the Government and Labor.
Change of plan
Late last year, the Government attempted to reduce the amount of water being returned to the environment in the northern basin following recommendations from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, from South Australia, has led a vocal campaign to stop that happening. She argued changing the plan would hurt her state.
Labor last week said it would back the Greens, but continued to negotiate with the Government.
The Victorian and New South Wales water ministers yesterday again warned they would pull out of the plan if the Senate blocked the changes.
Reduction in targets
The changes the Federal Government wants to make were in a bid to ease pressure on farmers in northern NSW and southern Queensland, where communities suffered due to a loss of water for irrigators.
As a result, the authority proposed a reduction in water recovery targets in the north of the basin from 390 gigalitres to 320 gigalitres — a 70-gigalitre decrease.
The move was described as a “sensible balance” between social, economic and environmental interests in the region.
The authority also said reducing the water recovery target would save an estimated 200 jobs in irrigation dependent communities.