The Gillard Government’s reported new approach to recovering water for the Murray-Darling should be cautiously welcomed, but must be more than another headline grabbing promise without funding and other detail to support it, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
South Australians waking to a headline “Win for our River” will recall similar past headlines associated with Labor promises and deals that amounted to little – including one hailing Julia Gillard as the ‘River Queen’ during the 2010 election for promises not met.
“If true, claims the Gillard Government has found more money to deliver more water for the Murray, in a way that minimises social and economic impacts, represent a welcome backflip by Labor,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“If Julia Gillard is to be believed this time she must detail how, when and where this additional water will be recovered and exactly when and where the money is coming from.
“For five years, Labor have failed to deliver on the Howard Government plan that prioritised exactly these sorts of water saving projects.
“Labor have consistently spent more than budgeted on non-strategic buybacks of water and have consistently failed to deliver budgeted spending on water saving infrastructure projects.
“Murray-Darling communities have seen these types of promises from Julia Gillard and Labor before. 
“Labor promised in both the 2007 and 2010 elections to fix Menindee Lakes, but have failed to deliver.
“Labor promised the draft Basin Plan would be released in 2010, yet it was released two years late.
“Labor promised the Basin Plan would be in place by 2014, yet pushed its implementation out to 2019.
“Labor promised that $328 million in federal funding for Adelaide’s desalination plant would reduce reliance on the Murray, but paid the money to a plant now mothballed.
“In the 2010 election, Julia Gillard promised to buy back all of the water needed to deliver the Basin Plan, yet now promises to do so via infrastructure projects.
“The communities of the Murray-Darling don’t need more shallow Labor promises; they need details to give them the confidence that this announcement is more than a mirage.”