Water Week

EWN Publishing

National Plan for Water Security: 62 versions of legislation secretly circulated since 25 January, says Labor

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

Although the Prime Minister’s announcement of his $10 billion National Plan for Water Security on 25 January was more a headline than a policy, Labor provided in-principle bipartisan support because it had been calling for greater national leadership in water policy from day one, said Labor’s Anthony Albanese in the Federal Parliament on 14 Augist 2007.

Lack of detail drew many critics: “Of course, we raised concerns; many groups did,” Albanese said. “Farmers, irrigators, environment groups, state governments and commentators all raised concerns. Critics of the lack of detail emerged across the spectrum and included the National Farmers Federation and the irrigation industry. There was general consensus that the Prime Minister got the direction right in January, but the detail was sorely lacking. Indeed, it was a headline looking for a policy.”

Lack of consultation: “There were no funding details, no time lines, and no governance arrangements,” said Albanese. “There was no consultation with the states, the national water commissioners, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, the NFF, irrigators or environment groups. There was no proper scrutiny by the departments of Treasury or Finance. There was not even consideration by the cabinet. Since 25 January, I understand there have been more than 62 versions of the legislation. There have been reports of very different approaches to the legislation appearing in drafts and then disappearing just as quickly.”

Constructive opposition approach: “Throughout this period federal Labor have been constructive in our approach. We have given in-principle support to the national approach whilst recognizing it was reasonable and indeed necessary and responsible for all stakeholders to scrutinise the National Plan for Water Security and to ensure the details were correct,” Albanese said.

Reference: Anthony Albanese, the Deputy Speaker, Member for Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, House of Representatives, Commonwealth, 14 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 19/8/2007

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