A $4.6 million Gillard Government advertising campaign only highlights its failures on water reform, Coalition Murray-Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Television advertising* has begun screening this week, following last week’s newspaper ads throughout the Basin supposedly promoting the Government’s claimed water initiatives and encouraging people to take part in the current round of Basin reform consultation.
“Sadly for Basin communities and the rivers themselves, the Government has dropped the ball on the work that might ease the pain of the sorts of cuts now being talked about by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority,” Senator Birmingham said.
“If Labor had actually been wisely spending any of the $5.8 billion put on the table by the Howard Government for water saving infrastructure upgrades, it wouldn’t have to now be spending $4.6 million of taxpayers’ money in a bid to calm their understandable passions.”
The $4.6 million amount being spent was confirmed by the Water department this week in Senate Estimates under questioning from Senator Birmingham.
“Over the last three years Labor has manifestly failed to spend more than a pittance of budgeted funds on water saving infrastructure and has shown no sign of improving this record,” Senator Birmingham said.
“This advertising cash splash also shows that Water Minister Tony Burke is trying to have it both ways on the Basin reform consultation process.
“Mr Burke is avoiding stakeholder passions at Basin-wide consultation sessions by saying he shouldn’t be part of the independent authority’s process, yet at the same time is showering affected communities with taxpayer funded ‘feel good’ advertising.
“This is a $4.6 million Government advertising campaign commissioned by Mr Burke’s own department.
“Why is Mr Burke happy for this level of involvement, but not to be accountable himself before affected stakeholders for the Government’s failures?
“If they’re serious, Tony Burke and the Gillard Government would stop hiding behind taxpayer funded ‘feel good’ advertising and front stakeholders worried about their futures.”
*The TV ads can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/user/DeptEnvironment