Water Week

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Turnbull plays different tunes on Chaffey upgrade grant issue – calls fed grant for Chaffey upgrade ‘contingent’ in parliament but changes tune to ‘all clear’ after angry response from local electorate

Posted by waterweek on 11 October 2007

According to Lenore Taylor, in The Australian Financial Review, (26/09/2007, p.11), the federal government appeared to be saying one thing in Canberra about its tough stance on protecting the Murray Darling and another to voters in the NSW electorate of New England over the issue of federal grant for work to increase the capacity of the Chaffey Dam near Tamworth, where the Nationals were seeking to win back from long-serving independent Tony Windsor.

Grant contingent – Turnbull to Parliament: Federal Environment and Water Resources Minister, Malcolm Turnbull told parliament the grant was “now contingent on the NSW government submitting an appropriate business plan to the National Water Commission … that is consistent with the principles of the National Water Initiative and the objectives of the National Plan for Water Security”.

All clear – Turnbull to electorate: But after a story in The Australian Financial Review and Turnbull’s answer in parliament caused an angry local response in Tamworth, a spokesperson for Turnbull released a statement to the local newspaper, the Northern Daily Leader, saying the project already had the “all clear” from the commonwealth. “The bottom line is [the funding] will go ahead,” the statement said.

Not yet assessed – says NWC: A spokesperson for the National Water Commission said the assessment to determine whether the funding went ahead had not yet occurred and would “absolutely not be a rubber stamp”.

Assessment to cover state business plan only: However, Phil Betts, the Nationals candidate for New England, and chair of the Chaffey Dam upgrade committee, said: “There are no further environmental assessments necessary by the National Water Commission. They just need to see the state government’s business plan to make sure the money is being spent correctly … all their other processes have already been undertaken.” Chaffey Dam is on the Peel River, which eventually flows into the Darling River.

The Australian Financial Review, 26/9/2007, p. 11

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