Labor has backed the government to pull the Murray Darling Basin Plan from the fire.
Hailing it as a signature achievement of his time in office, Water Minister David Littleproud announced the government has done a deal with Labor to block the Greens controversial Sustainable Diversion Limit disallowance motion.
Labor voted in the Senate to side with the government, ensuring the Greens were defeated.
The disallowance motion would have spurred a further 605 gigalitres of irrigation buybacks in the Southern Basin.
The stakes were particularly high this time around, with tensions running high over irrigation cutbacks. NSW and Victorian water ministers threatened to withdraw from the Basin Plan if the projects were blocked.
“I reached out across the aisle to seek bipartisanship and aimed to provide leadership on this issue from day one. We rarely achieve lasting results by going to war,” Mr Littleproud said.
“In my short time as Minister, I hope to have demonstrated that transparency, integrity and compliance are important to me.
“Given this, I’m rapt with adjustments which will now be made to the Plan.”
The Greens wanted to overturn the approval parliament granted last year for 37 infrastructure works, worth $1.3 billion, which are designed to move environmental water more efficiently and reduce irrigation cutbacks by 605 gigalitres.
The deal will see fresh oversight for the Northern Basin rollout of the plan in the unregulated river system, with a Northern Basin Commissioner to report on the progress water recovery.
Labor’s deal with Government includes more stringent oversight of water recovery and compliance, and a commitment to bring the Northern Basin amendment back to parliament.
Labor and the government committed to deliver the 450GL of ‘upwater’, to be recovered through on-farm efficiency projects, which will take the overall water recovery to 3200GL – providing no net negative impact to Basin communities.
“The process of attaining the 450GL, with no negative social or economic impacts, can now begin,” Mr Littleproud said.