Newly appointed Water Minister Tony Burke will be judged by his deeds rather than more words such as those offered today, Coalition Murray-Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Mr Burke has today signalled a shift by Labor towards the Coalition’s position of understanding and addressing the impacts on Basin communities of water reform:
“… when an irrigator does sell out their water entitlements and they then leave the community, the money and the jobs associated with that leave the community as well and I’m just very conscious as to whether or not we’ve got enough in place to make sure that we keep strong regional communities in those areas … I just do have a concern whether we’ve got enough in place to look after regional communities when water goes.”
            Tony Burke, ABC Radio, 21 September 2010
“Mr Burke would do well to look at the Coalition’s Basin policy, which proposed a study of the economic and social impacts of the draft Basin Plan soon to be released by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Our election policy also provided for a doubling of funding for the Strengthening Basin Communities program.
“Of course, Labor issued no water or Basin policy documents during the campaign, just a couple of uncosted press releases, which certainly did not include these Coalition proposals.
“The Coalition has always said we can and must do both – that is, fix the environment, but do so in a way that maintains viability for our food producing communities.
“Mr Burke can start by spending on water-saving infrastructure upgrades. Labor failed to spend budgeted funds for water saving infrastructure in each of the last three years. 
“An early test will be whether Mr Burke can overcome a sorry record of inaction and delays.”