LEON BYNER: The Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray Darling Basin is Simon Birmingham. Simon, where do you think South Australia stands in this horse trade that’s going on at the moment?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well good morning, Leon and listeners, and look, I’m pleased to hear Quentin [Grafton, Director, Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy, Crawford School of Economics and Government, Australian National University] providing some reassurance because I think that is necessary given some of the scare campaign on the front page of The Advertiser and elsewhere. I think as we move into whoever forms a government, we need to recognise that the Water Act is already in place, it was passed in 2007 by the Howard Government, it requires that the independent Authority develop a sustainable Basin Plan and to change that requirement would of course require a change to the Water Act, and that would require the agreement of both Houses of Parliament and the reality is that’s looking like it could be a difficult thing for whoever forms government, so we need to recognise that the Water Act is there, the sustainable Plan has to be developed under that Act, the Coalition’s committed to doing so as part of our policy, it remains our policy, I’ve not heard the Independents raise concerns to the contrary, and indeed I would hope that they would see our policy, which also focuses on investing the money and spending the money that’s been put aside to support farmers and irrigators to make a transition to maintain food production in Australia while getting environmental sustainability, is the right mix for the future, it secures the Murray and secures food production.
LEON BYNER: So, Simon, are you telling us that no matter who ends up doing a deal with the Independents, South Australia will still be treated fairly in terms of water?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, I think in terms of the long-term issues around the development of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, we have to acknowledge the Water Act requires this Basin Plan to be developed …
LEON BYNER: Yep…
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … we have committed to release this draft Plan within two weeks of taking office if we manage to form a government, I’m sure we will honour that commitment and indeed we’ve committed to the long-term fix for the Murray and I am confident that we will honour that commitment. In addition, we’ve committed to some short-term pain relief by putting … some fresh water into the Lower Lakes and the Coorong this year, which Labor did not commit to … there’s some extras I think that the Coalition offered, that Labor didn’t but I am hopeful that South Australia’s position and certainly Christopher Pyne is up in Canberra with Tony Abbott at present, we are right in there, in the discussions and I know that he and the rest of the SA Liberal team would certainly not allow the Murray … to be sold out in discussion.
LEON BYNER: Alright. Simon Birmingham, thank you.