Water Week

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$2 billion Australian water fund untouched; not a single drop of environmental flow has gone back into Murray: Labor questions Govt commitment

Posted by waterweek on 26 September 2007

Although the 500 gigalitres of water the Federal Government had committed to putting back into the Murray was only a third of what was needed, even that had not been achieved over the last three years, said Labor’s shadow Treasurer Simon Crean in the Federal Parliament on 14 August 2007.

Another election promise: “If you simply look at the water initiatives, you see that we have a government presiding over the worst drought in recorded history and it actually cut funding in terms of water,” Crean said. “The only time it made a commitment to new funding, short of this latest initiative that we are debating, was just before the introduction of the water fund. This was part of the Prime Minister’s ‘drunken sailor spree’ — $60 billion spent in total by the government to get itself reelected. The problem with the $2 billion Australian water fund is that it has not been spent. So here we have a promise being made just before an election to get themselves into the frame of looking active, yet the funding has not been committed.

Commitment to spend five-fold increase doubted: “Worse, not a single drop of environmental flow has gone back into the Murray, even though, at the same time as making that $2 billion commitment, they committed to putting 500 gigalitres back into the Murray. We say that the 500 gigalitres was deficient. We argued, and actually proposed, that it be 1,500 gigalitres. That was our policy. The government not only committed to merely going a third of the way; in the three years since, not one drop of water has gone into the Murray as a result of that commitment. Here we are, three years down the track, with another election pending, and we have another commitment. But it is not $2 billion this time; it is $10 billion. It is five times as much — but, as we know, with all the wriggle room in the world by which the government, if it is to be re-elected, can get out of making that spend.”

Reference: Simon Crean, Shadow Treasurer for the Australian Labor Party, Member for Hotham, House of Representatives, Commonwealth, 14 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 19/8/2007

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