Today’s release of a draft Lower Lakes and Coorong Recovery plan is welcome as it places focus back on the crisis in the Murray Darling Basin, Coalition spokesman Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
“The South Australian Government’s draft Lower Lakes and Coorong Recovery Plan highlights the continued crisis in the Murray Darling Basin, especially the failure of Senator Wong and the Rudd Labor Government to deliver critical infrastructure upstream,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Upon initial analysis it appears the report contains several longstanding ideas recommended by numerous other inquiries, including recent Senate inquiries. Indeed, many of these recommendations, such as reducing salinity in the Coorong, should have been implemented long ago.
“Continued investment in the Lower Lakes area is welcome and follows the successful construction of new infrastructure to provide water security to those local communities.
“However, these limited developments in crisis management at the bottom of the Murray Darling system simply highlight the abject failure of upstream states and the Rudd Government to deliver key water saving infrastructure projects.
“Upstream state Labor governments committed in the middle of last year to build a raft of important water saving projects. These so-called ‘priority projects’ could save millions of litres of water but have been stalled in state Labor bureaucracy.
“The measures contained in the draft Lower Lakes plan are all about responding to the crisis, when effective action upstream could actually reduce the crisis.
“Continued failure to progress upstream infrastructure projects increases the risk that the so called ‘last resort’ option to build a weir and flood the lakes will have to be pursued.
“South Australians would take more seriously the continuing suggestion that flooding the Lower Lakes is a last resort option if it appeared as though every possible step to avoid doing so was being pursued.
“It is clear that the New South Wales and Victorian Labor governments are not committed to timely action to help the Murray Darling river system. It is time for Minister Wong to step in and ensure that action reflecting the gravity of the crisis in the Lower Lakes is finally taken.”