Some Murray-Darling Basin communities face decimation through cuts in their water allocations, opposition water spokesman Barnaby Joyce says.
Senator Joyce said removing more water from the system ultimately took key economic assets to the tipping point where they were no longer productive and had to be closed down, costing jobs and decimating the social fabric of the community.
The Greens, however, said the proposal is the best chance to save the river system.
The guide outlined a clawback of 27 to 37 per cent of water in the system, possibly costing $805 million a year in agricultural production and 800 jobs.
He said those whose lives were turned upside down would receive no compensation.
“It’s not going out on a limb to say that if you take 45 per cent from an area the area for all intents and purposes is decimated,” he told reporters.
“We have to acknowledge that people, who are not going to be compensated, are behind the consequences of that sort of decision.
No one is going to compensate the pensioner who has just paid off their house in a regional town, spent their whole life basically labouring to make the payments.”
Senator Joyce said Labor’s performance in implementing the roof insulation scheme and building school halls raised strong doubts about whether it could deal with an issue of this complexity.
“And we are now allowing these people to start tinkering with the mechanism by which Australia feeds itself,” he said.
Senator Joyce said he did not deny that there was an environmental issue to deal with but this needed much more work.
“This does not tell that lady in Deniliquin what’s going to happen to her next.
This does not tell the person who is sitting in Mildura what happens to their life next,” he said. “We have a responsibility… to be honest with the Australian constituency and to tell them what is going to happen to their life.
That is what it is absolutely vital that we have the proper social … and economic analysis of what is going to happen in the basin.”