State and Federal Labor Government Water Ministers must explain an apparent state of confusion over the future of the Coorong and Lower Lakes, Coalition Murray Darling spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
It follows a whole new round of consultation that commenced this week, more than three months after consultation closed on the previous release of a draft management plan by the Rann Government.
Rann Government Minister Karlene Maywald says the Commonwealth asked for further public consultation before releasing funding for emergency works.
“Ministers Karlene Maywald and Penny Wong need to explain on what basis this latest round of consultation has been requested, which has therefore delayed commencement of these emergency works,” Senator Birmingham said.
“There is a reason these works are referred to as ’emergency works’ and that is because they are urgent and important. This delay in decision making is coming at a direct cost to the unique habitat of the Coorong and Lower Lakes.
“It is also of concern that this latest round of consultation is being conducted over a four-week period that includes Christmas and the New Year. The timing begs the question as to whether this is designed for real consultation, or if the consultation is simply a ruse for continued delays.”
Timeline of events:
  • May – Rann Government conducts a series of community information sessions and listening posts it describes as consultation
  • 16 August – Rann Government releases Coorong and Lower Lakes planning document for consultation
  • 11 September – consultation ends
  • 12 October – Rudd Government announces appointment of new scientific panel to provide advice
  • 15 December – Rann Government releases Coorong and Lower Lakes planning document for consultation
“These emergency works were urgent in August. They are now more urgent in December. And after another long, hot summer of inaction they will be positively desperate,” Senator Birmingham said.
“The Rann and Rudd Governments appear to be investing more energy on ever increasing consultation on their emergency plans than in actually implementing either them or, better still, progressing some of the upstream infrastructure projects that might lessen the ongoing emergency the Lakes and Coorong currently face.
“An explanation for these latest delays would be very welcome.”