SA-BEST backs Centre Alliance’s bid to ban cotton exporting

4 February 2019

Plans by Centre Alliance to stop cotton exports from Australia has the full support of SA-BEST.

SA-BEST MLC and Environment and Water spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, said today it was ludicrous such a water intensive crop is allowed to be exported when Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet meaning “we are effectively exporting water from it”.

Centre Alliance – SA-BEST’s political colleagues in Federal Parliament – today announced it would introduce legislation in the next session of Parliament to impose a ban on the export of cotton.

The bill will amend the Export Control Act 1982 to prohibit the export of cotton grown in Australia with the proposed ban coming into force no later than three years after the passage of legislation.

“The entire country has been horrified by the images coming from numerous locations along the Murray-Darling River system – fish dying in their millions, towns lining the river system with no access to river water, the list goes on,” she said.

“Much of this lies at the hands of the upstream irrigators – including cotton growers - who have been allowed to legally siphon excessive volumes of water out of our river systems to the severe detriment of those downstream.

“We now have a scathing Royal Commission report that demands a complete overhaul of the $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin Plan and alleges federal officials committed maladministration by making decisions on environment flows allocations based on politics rather than science.

“The Murray-Darling Basin is an environmental disaster unfolding before our very eyes – yet both the Federal and SA governments belligerently and arrogantly refuse to do anything about it.

“Their inactions stand condemned.”

Connie also demanded the Marshall Liberal Government – which was heavily criticised in the Commission’s report - immediately reveal how many of the Royal Commission’s 44 recommendations it would support.

“The State Government’s total lack of action and interest so far to the Commission’s findings are nothing short of disgraceful,” Connie said.

“The Commissioner made 44 recommendations to the State Government on what needs to be done to return the Murray-Darling system to good health – including putting environmental concerns in front of social and economic effects,” she said.

“Banning the export of cotton – a crop which uses at least 20% of Murray Darling Basin irrigation allocation – would serve as a last resort option to significantly decrease diversions from the Murray-Darling basin.

“It’s time Premier Steven Marshall started making the hard decisions that need to be made – and follow the lead of Centre Alliance - instead of subserviently bowing to the demands of its Federal colleagues.

“To date, he has shown very weak leadership on this issue. His responses so far are completely disrespectful of the Royal Commissioner and the hard work he and his team have done.

“Alarmingly, he is not alone – comments from government ministers in other jurisdictions are just as insolent.

“As a priority, the Premier needs to tell the people of South Australia how many of the Royal Commission’s 44 recommendations he plans to support.

“The livelihoods of all South Australians – and millions of Australians – are reliant of the long-term sustainability of the Murray-Darling Basin.

“The Marshall Government must stop the political rhetoric and focus on fixing the problem.”

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