Water Week

EWN Publishing

People suspicious of yet another expensive plan to solve intractable water issues: get back to basics, argues MP

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

Billions of dollars had been wasted in failing to solve the basic issues in water allocation said Independent MP Tony Windsor in the Federal Parliament on 12 September 2007.

$10 billion fantasy: Windsor said: “If, at the time of the 1995 agreement, there had been real leadership in the water debate, recognising the overallocation of some of our river and groundwater systems, recognising a property right and recognizing that the community would compensate for the removal of some of those rights, we would not be going through this fantasy of another $10 billion package to save the Murray-Darling.

Basic problem ignored: “When you analyse the flow of money under the national competition arrangement from the Commonwealth to the states that could have been used for water reform, you find that something like $8.5 billion has been expended through water quality and salinity arrangements, various intergovernmental agreements, bilateral agreements, catchment management blueprints, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, the National Water Initiative — and on and on it goes. We have never addressed the underlying problem.

People rightly suspicious: “No wonder irrigators and communities are suspicious of government. Government signed off on an arrangement and the current government endorsed that arrangement in 1996 and has carried it on ever since. The states have taken the money and have not repatriated those who have had to make major adjustments to their income streams. On and on it goes, and now we have another one, called the Prime Minister’s cigarette paper plan, which is going to save the Murray-Darling and is going to look at the overallocation issue and the entitlement issue and is again going to save the world. No wonder people are very suspicious of those issues,” Windsor said.

Reference: Tony Windsor, Member for New England, Independent, House of Representative, Commonwealth of Australia, 12 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 22/9/2007

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