On 17 November 2016, Federal Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce wrote to South Australian Water Minister Ian Hunter saying, in effect, that an additional 450GL of environmental flows could not be delivered, and that there was a ‘stalemate’ over the issue.
At that point, it seemed that the Federal Government was going to walk away from the Inter-Governmental Agreement, so I became heavily involved to ensure the Federal Government kept its word.
As a result of discussions and negotiations with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and SA Premier Jay Weatherill, the Prime Minster wrote to Premier Jay Weatherill on 29 November 2016 undertaking to “successfully implement the Basin Plan in full and on time”. In addition, the peak body COAG (Council of Australian Governments) will deal with water and the implementation of the Plan at every meeting twice a year from now on.
The Government also agreed to additional security through a twice-yearly Senate process to ensure the implementation of the Plan. My clear understanding was that Premier Weatherill was pleased and satisfied with those assurances, with of course, much more work to be done to make sure the Plan is implemented.
I will continue to hold the government to account on this issue and ensure the Federal government upholds their end of the agreement and I’ll be keeping you posted on the implementation of the basin plan.