Hundreds of billions of litres of water flowing from the Darling River into Menindee Lakes in New South Wales will be wasted thanks to delays in progressing long overdue federal infrastructure works, Coalition Murray Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Labor’s 2007 election policy promised that a Rudd Government would “accelerate investment in all water saving infrastructure” and highlighted reengineering of Menindee Lakes in New South Wales at the top of a list of projects to be pursued*.
“Despite their promises, not one bit of engineering works has been undertaken on the Menindee Lakes by the Rudd Government,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Estimates in Labor’s own policy document indicate that 200 billion litres could be saved annually from reduced evaporation and increased efficiencies that would be delivered by the $400 million project, which was fully funded by the Howard Government in 2007.
“Hundreds of billions of litres of water are expected to flow into the Lakes as a result of the current rains and floods in the northern catchment, yet virtually none is expected to pass the Lakes and complete the journey along the Darling into the Murray.
“Kevin Rudd’s promised acceleration of investment in water infrastructure has turned out to be little more than a pipe dream. Opportunities to save billions of litres of river water each year are being wasted.
“Menindee is just one example of the Rudd Government’s failure to not even deliver on water saving infrastructure projects, let alone accelerate them.
“Multi billion dollar priority projects were agreed to by the Federal, New South Wales and Victorian governments in mid 2008, yet as we enter 2010 virtually nothing has been spent on any of them.
“The consequences of the Rudd Government’s inaction are dire. They mean less water for farmers, less water for communities who rely on the river, extensive erosion of river banks and, of course, the continued stress placed on key environmental assets.”
* See page 12 of Labor’s national plan to tackle the water crisis, available at http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/library/partypol/170P6/upload_binary/170p62.pdf;fileType%3Dapplication%2Fpdf