Government to alter water plan

This decision came after more states on Friday joined Victoria in expressing concern about the proposal.


Victoria remained steadfast in its rejection of the plan after a meeting of water ministers from basin states and the federal government in Adelaide today.

South Australia and Queensland, while remaining supportive of the federal plan, have voiced concern at aspects to rejuvenate the ailing basin.

Federal Water Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Canberra was willing to tinker with the plan's legislation.

"We are seeking input and we are making changes to the legislation all the time," Mr Turnbull said.

"We recognise that we are not the sole repository of wisdom on water, nobody is.

"We all benefit from input from others and we are seeking that input, receiving it, and where there is a consensus that it can make an improvement, we are applying it."

Mr Turnbull did not specify what changes would be made, ahead of further discussions between the Commonwealth and Victoria next week.

"We are seeking wherever we can to ensure that we can find a middle ground," he said.

Victorian Water Minister John Thwaites reaffirmed his state wouldn't accept the plan in its current format.

"Victoria is prepared to talk and negotiate with the Commonwealth to ensure that we protect the basin," Mr Thwaites said.

"What Victoria is not prepared to accept is total constitutional hand over of all powers.

"The powers in this legislation are much more extensive than certainly Victoria is prepared to accept."

South Australia Water Security Minister Karlene Maywald said her state had concerns about some details of the legislation.

"We are still 100 per cent committed to the national plan," Ms Maywald said.

"There are concerns about some of the detail in the legislation that need to be worked through, we are working through that.

"I don't think anyone is being unreasonable. Victoria has some concerns that they would like resolved, they are working with the Commonwealth on that, we have got some issues with some of the detail and we are working with the commonwealth on that.

"There is a lot of detail and it's too complex to go into."

Queensland Natural Resources and Water Minister Craig Wallace said the Commonwealth must alter the legislation for it to win approval from the states.

"We know that there has got to be some movement from the Commonwealth in terms of getting the agreement up," Mr Wallace said.

"The states have joined as one in saying to the commonwealth that we want to work with them.

"We need to have some forward movement from the Commonwealth though.

"We don't want to walk away from the deal, we don't want the Commonwealth to walk away from the deal, but we need some movement there from the Commonwealth themselves."

New South Wales Water Minister Phil Koperberg was unavailable for comment.

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