SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Today the Murray-Darling Basin Association [Authority] goes to Narrabri. Tomorrow they go to Moree and St George. The Coalition would like to make an offer. We want to offer Tony Burke a pair, so that he can attend one of these community consultation sessions about this important reform process. This process is too important to allow it to go off the rails yet Labor is botching it day by day, just as they do every other reform agenda they touch.
So today’s challenge is to Minister Burke. Will he go to Narrabri? Will he go to Moree? Will he go to St George? He has the options. They are there. There will be thousands of people, as there have been already, outlining their concerns. It’s time to turn up, Minister Burke, hear those concerns and act on them.
JOURNALIST: So you just want to see him monstered, don’t you?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I want to see the Labor Party actually turn up and be responsible for its own process, its own failures. They have failed this reform agenda. They’ve failed to deliver on the necessary infrastructure reforms that could ease the pain for these communities. They’ve failed to ensure that a full comprehensive report was released by the Murray-Darling Basin Association [Authority] that ticked all the boxes, that delivered on all of the attributes that are important decent environmental analysis as well as decent social and economic analysis.
Yesterday we learned that… in Senate Estimates… the Murray-Darling Basin Association [Authority] received the final copy of its ABARE economic study on the morning that the Murray-Darling Basin Association [Authority] released the Guide to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. How is that a case of doing thorough analysis? How is that a case of the Association [Authority] taking proper consideration of that ABARE economic study? There are failures all the way through this and Minister Burke should front up to the communities and address them.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: We’ve made it very clear that all pairs will be considered on a merits basis and where there are important international fora the Prime Minister will be granted a pair to attend. Today, we think that it’s important that the Water Minister of this country, who has been the missing man of the Murray-Darling for 13 days now, actually fronts up to one of these community consultation sessions and addresses the issues and concerns of communities the length and breadth of the Murray-Darling.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of BHP threatening to walk away from the mining deal that they agreed on?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well it just goes to show once again that Labor’s approach to reform is a failed approach. They cannot manage to deliver, in the Australian interest, any type of reform. Now we’ve been clear from day one that we think the mining tax is a bad tax, but this Government has bungled time and time again its own agenda when it comes to the mining tax and it appears today that once again they are mismanaging the process, unable to keep players in the tent, now you’ve got to wonder what this Government can achieve rather than of course seeing the litany of examples they cannot achieve.
JOURNALIST: Can I just ask, can you or any of your staff ever changed a light globe in your electorate office?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I must say, I would’ve… I’m just trying to think now, Alex, I suspect that we may have, I have to confess.
JOURNALIST: Do you realise you’re breaking the rules?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I must say that changing a light globe, or fixing a squeaky door, or any of those sorts of things I didn’t realise were an enormous breach of any type of laws and I think a bit of common sense has to apply to these things.
JOURNALIST: Do you think it is outrageous, the bureaucracy gone mad?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I think certainly we see all too often instances of a bit of crazy bureaucratese out there and perhaps instances of getting electricians to change light bulbs is a bit of an exaggeration. Thanks guys, cheers.