New Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to shift responsibilities for water to the Agriculture Minister threatens the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

“Water is a fundamental source of life for every Australian, not merely an input for particular industries,” said ACF’s healthy ecosystems campaigner Jonathan La Nauze.

“On this big dry continent, every community depends on a healthy environment.

“Water keeps our environment living and thriving, so it is essential it is managed independently of industries that benefit financially from using it.

“Our rivers support more than cotton crops.

“One hundred years of managing the Murray-Darling as if it was nothing more than a water source for irrigators is what stuffed up the river system.

“Shifting responsibilities for water to the Agriculture Minister threatens the implementation of the delicately-balanced Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“John Howard and his then Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull wisely put water into the Environment portfolio when they started the Basin Plan, the world’s biggest river restoration project.

“As a result of Mr Turnbull’s leadership back in 2007, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder now manages trillions of litres environmental water ever year – the biggest environmental water portfolio anywhere on the planet.

“It make no more sense to manage this water from the agriculture department than it would from the mining department.

“The Prime Minister needs to explain how he will ensure $10 billion worth of environmental water is managed for the whole environment, not just used to fill farm dams,” he said.

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Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910, tom.arup@acf.org.au; or Toby Halligan on 0419 403 016, toby.halligan@acf.org.au For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@acf.org.au.