Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader
The Liberals’ ‘Agrifood Scorecard 2019-20’ tabled in Parliament today talks up agricultural output and ignores the heavy price paid by Tasmania’s rivers and catchments for a target without science.
The Liberals and particularly Minister Barnett are overseeing the complete neglect of Tasmania’s river systems, and serious decline in their health since 2014; a decline confirmed by independent and government scientists.
Most Tasmanians don’t realise that while big businesses profit from using Tasmania’s precious water resources, they pay almost nothing for the privilege. We literally give away our most precious natural resource.
Van Dairy have repeatedly breached environmental and animal welfare laws. Meanwhile they pay just one cent for every 38,000 litres of water they’re licensed to take from the Wey River in the state’s North West.* At that rate, they could pay for the average household’s annual water usage with a five-cent coin.
The Greens strongly support Tasmanian farmers, but we do not support a government who is prepared to gift away our most precious resource – fresh water – and run down the health of our rivers.
The egregious undervaluing of fresh water, coupled with the Liberals’ plan for a tenfold expansion of agricultural production by 2050, is increasing the pressure on Tasmania’s rivers. The government’s own agency, DPIPWE, says many rivers have no more water left to give, and that many others are experiencing serious decline in environmental health and water quality.
Government scientists, TasWater, river experts, anglers, oyster growers, and PESRAC have all expressed their concern about the management of water in Tasmania. They understand that while the Liberals’ plan will result in some short-term economic benefit, in the long run it will be a disaster for the state.
Every single Tasmanian, and our entire economy, relies on the availability of clean water – but that’s being put at risk by a government that won’t acknowledge the serious problems being created by their unscientific and short-sighted policy agenda.
*Confirmed by the Minister for Primary Industries in response to a Question on Notice from Budget Estimates. In total, Van Dairy hold licences for over 30,000 million litres of water in Tasmania.