LEON BYNER: Simon Birmingham … what do you understand is Ms Gillard’s intention in terms of a timeframe? When would this water be purchased?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … I have a good many concerns about Ms Gillard’s announcement this morning. It lacks any real detail to it … I’m concerned that she’s talking about further buybacks beyond 2014 … the Murray Darling Basin Plan, which is being hidden at present in the Authority, is meant to take effect with sustainable diversion limits in place in all states except Victoria by 2014. So the question for Ms Gillard is; is this actually yet another delay in the implementation? It’s a clever headline, it’s a clever media tactic but is she in fact holding up the implementation of the plan even further by announcing buybacks beyond 2014 when in fact every state except Victoria under the deal that her Government struck is meant to be coming to the table with new sustainable limits on diversions from the Murray by 2014?
LEON BYNER: What will this do for food security?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … I really do worry … that this Government seems to set this debate up as one between the environment or agriculture and that’s just not reasonable … we need to manage the system in a way that allows us to have healthy rivers and to get the environmental flows we need but preserves our food producers in areas like South Australia’s Riverland … the real concern here is that the Labor Government in every year they’ve been in office has failed to deliver their promised spending on water saving infrastructure around the country on helping farmers, irrigators to produce more with less. So they’ve failed that promise. They’re now promising to continue with buybacks some time beyond 2014 which appears to be another breach of promise on the timing of delivery of the Plan. I really think this announcement … with no costing, no detail, no policy about committing to a plan that she herself says she has not seen really is just an attempt to try and con South Australians.
LEON BYNER: What is Tony Abbott offering?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … our policy is detailed, it is costed, it will be personally released by Tony … very, very soon …
LEON BYNER: … I’m a little tired of governments or oppositions announcing anything beyond the next cycle of three years because they may not be in Government after three years … so I hope that if you are going to announce something through Mr Abbott or yourself it is the next three years, not beyond that.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … I can promise you that unlike Julia Gillard’s policy which is about 2014 and beyond … we will certainly be announcing policies that relate to the next three years. They relate to the long term as well because that’s important but we will not squib the short term like she has.