(Mike Smithson: Simon, will the Premier’s letter to Kevin Rudd have any impact? Will it make a splash?) Good morning Mike and listeners. It’s very disappointing that the Premier finds himself so weak and hopeless in this debate that he has to now resort simply to firing off the occasional letter.  The problems we’re seeing now as a result… of course of years of mismanagement, a century of mismanagement… it’s the one thing that Karlene Maywald was right on… but in particular the last couple of years of wasted opportunity. The Premier, Karlene Maywald and Kevin Rudd signed a couple of years ago in Adelaide what they called was an historic agreement for the national management of the system.  We’re seeing how that national management is not working, that it’s not national, that it’s actually of course leaving powers so much in the hands of New South Wales. So we’re seeing real disappointment in terms of South Australia, all of those downstream users, for the fact that waters aren’t being managed in the national interest and aren’t flowing effectively.  But I also want to highlight, Mike, that there’s also been a real failure of opportunity to pursue the type of infrastructure project that could and should have been undertaken to save water and that’s some of the things that Ray [Najar of the Murray Darling Association] was talking about there… that Kevin Rudd at the last election highlighted at number one on his list of infrastructure projects… the potential to reengineer Menindee Lakes that could save 200 billion litres annually of water. What’s happened? Absolutely nothing in terms of works on the ground at Menindee. It’s still waiting. You’ve seen what’s happened in SA and your listeners have… we’ve had emergency pipelines built… we’ve got regulators built… all of that wasn’t foreseen two years ago but it’s been funded, approved and built… nothing on Menindee Lakes that could’ve ensured less of this water was needed in Menindee, less of it was wasted through evaporation and leakage in Menindee and more of it flowed through to SA.  (Smithson:  Well you’ve got to take some responsibility… when I say you, the Liberal Party, John Howard had a chance to fix this, and not much happened there either.) Mike, as I said it is a century of mismanagement. It’s something we got terribly wrong when we wrote the constitution. But to give John Howard his credit, after years of trying to get something in place, in 2007 he said enough’s enough, let’s have national management of the system, let’s fund some infrastructure works through the system. He put ten billion dollars on the table in 2007. Now, I think sadly, he was voted out of office, but that ten billion dollars is there…  it includes 400 million dollars for infrastructure works on Menindee and Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong have not managed to spend a cent of it on actual engineering works in Menindee Lakes. The money’s there, John Howard put the money there, and it just hasn’t progressed since that 2007 election.  (Smithson: So Simon, you see this natural weather phenomenon… a freak phenomenon, with thanks to the tropical cyclone… you see it as a lost opportunity for South Australia?) Well, Mike, we were always at some stage going to get a weather event like this and it’s fantastic that it’s happened… it’s fantastic for those farmers and irrigators in northern New South Wales who will benefit and I’m ecstatic for them because there are people… we shouldn’t think in SA we’re the only ones who’ve been doing it tough… there are people throughout the Basin who’ve been doing it tough… but this type of weather event was always going to happen. Sadly, the planning hasn’t been put in place, the right framework for management hasn’t been put in place and therefore we’re seeing of course that we’re not getting the benefits right throughout the system that it should be providing for… and of course the failure to develop and progress the infrastructure work such as reengineering Menindee Lakes means that, even if there’s another weather event of this sort, we won’t see the types of benefits flow through to SA that we could have seen if this one had been… had simply filled up Menindee, if we didn’t have the waste and the inefficiency there, then at least we would have seen future flows come through whereas the waste and inefficiency in Menindee that still exists means that we will see future weathers events probably wasted as well. (Smithson: We certainly hope not. Simon Birmingham, thanks for joining us here on FIVEaa this morning.)