SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Thanks, Tony. Tony Abbott has done today what Tony Burke has failed to do and that is turn up, turn up to these Basin communities and actually listen to people’s grievances, turn up and see just how wrong Labor is getting this process.
Three years ago the Labor Party was left with a framework for balanced reform, reform of the Murray-Darling that could preserve communities, preserve the economy of agricultural production and restore environmental flows. They have stuffed it, they have botched it and what we have now is a process where they can’t get agreement on the Water Act, they’re unable to deliver any type of meaningful reform and it is all being held up and delayed.
What we need is for the Prime Minister, for Tony Burke, to agree to front up to these communities, to agree to ensure that they and the Murray-Darling Basin Association [Authority] get themselves on the same page because what we have seen today is that the Authority is standing off at 20 paces with their own legal advice against, it seems, the Government with different legal advice.
We need one interpretation of the Act, we need a commitment to move this forward, to end the delays, to end the stuff-ups, to get the fair balanced outcome. That’s why Tony was here listening today; that’s why Coalition MPs have been at nearly all of these Authority meetings, that’s why we challenge the Government to front up and do the same.