State and Federal Labor Government delays in progressing water saving infrastructure projects across the Murray-Darling Basin have today been confirmed in an independent progress report, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council progress report has found significant delays in delivering 17 ‘priority projects’ under the intergovernmental agreement hailed as historic by Labor Governments at the time.
“These projects would create significant water savings and efficiencies and ease the pain for communities across the Basin of the types of cuts now being proposed by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Labor’s failures in progressing these projects are among the reasons Basin communities are losing faith in the reform process and need addressing urgently.
“This terminal lack of speed risks killing the Basin reform process.”
The COAG Reform Council has found:
Since the signing of the IGA on 3 July 2008, there has been limited progress in approving and delivering the priority projects. Of the 17 priority projects that were agreed in principle, only five … had shown substantial progress by 31 December 2009. South Australia is the only Basin State to commence (and subsequently complete) a full priority project.
… in the 18 month period between when the IGA was signed (July 2008) and the end of the reporting period (December 2009), only two projects were completed or largely completed, and there were significant delays in the development and approval all other projects.
“The Government’s handling of water reform has been a shambles from the outset,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Labor has removed productive capacity by over-spending on water buybacks while under-spending on water saving infrastructure that would maintain productive capacity, every year they’ve been in office.
“This skewed approach in Labor’s first three years, and the Government’s inability to outline how it will achieve water savings now, are why Water Minister Tony Burke now finds himself scrambling to restore confidence in the Basin reform process.”