The Rudd Government is refusing to take the Australian people into its confidence in relation to the Lower Lakes and Coorong, even defying a Senate order to do so, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
The Senate yesterday passed a ‘return to order’ for Water Minister Penny Wong to disclose the emergency advice she sought from her department in June on ‘what we can do in the short term’ to address the dire situation confronting the Coorong, Lower Lakes and surrounding communities in South Australia.
That there be laid on the table, no later than noon on Thursday, 28 August 2008, the ‘urgent advice’ prepared for the Minister for Climate Change and Water by her department as requested on 18 June 2008 on ‘what we can do in the short-term’ to address the dire situation confronting the Coorong and Lower Lakes in South Australia.
Order passed by Senate yesterday
“It was extremely disappointing yesterday for the Rudd Government to oppose the motion, moved by South Australian Liberal Senators, for it to take Australians into its confidence,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“With the deadline for the provision of this urgent advice having passed at noon today, the clock is now ticking on Senator Wong’s contempt of the Senate and everyone concerned about the Lower Lakes.
“Not only should the Government share what it’s been told with the people of Australia, and particularly South Australians most directly affected, but this “urgent advice” might well help ‘fast track’ a Senate committee’s deliberations on this very matter.
“Just what is Minister Wong hiding from us, even in the face of a Senate order for her to reveal it? Or was there never any ‘urgent advice’?
“While Liberal Senators have worked with Senator Xenophon and Greens Senators to establish an urgent inquiry to identify all options to save the Lower Lakes, Senator Wong is snubbing her nose at the Senate.
“These orders, motions and inquiries shouldn’t even be necessary if only the Rudd Government would honour its promises of transparency and show real leadership on the River Murray.”