Billions of litres in potential water savings appear to have been lost to irrigators and the environment due to Julia Gillard’s failure to progress works at the Menindee Lakes water storage, Coalition Murray-Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
The re-engineering of Menindee Lakes in New South Wales headed a list of Labor priority projects at the 2007 election, and was identified by Labor as being able to return up to 200 billion litres a year. However, with no progress in Labor’s first term, the project was also part of Ms Gillard’s 2010 campaign:
“One of the most significant challenges in the Murray Darling Basin is one step closer to being resolved, with the Gillard Labor Government signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the New South Wales Government on the future of Menindee Lakes … It gives the green light to a final feasibility assessment that will be completed in October…”
Julia Gillard and Penny Wong, media release, 10 August 2010
The July 2010 agreement involved a deadline of October 2010 for the assessment of feasibility and other work, and for a decision on whether or not to proceed.
“Eight months after the deadline we learn that New South Wales considers this agreement has ceased to have effect and wants the option further developed,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“For South Australians in particular, this is strike three for Julia Gillard when it comes to broken election promises on water.
“She won’t deliver the promised eastern Adelaide stormwater project, has long abandoned blank cheque acceptance of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s recommendations and has completely failed to achieve any progress on improving Menindee Lakes.
“Julia Gillard declared 2011 would be her year of delivery, but for Basin reform she has delivered only disappointment on a series of empty election promises.
“The Menindee Lakes failure is a blow to the Basin reform process and will make achieving the Basin Plan even harder, which will hurt irrigators and environmental sites even more.
“I urge the Gillard and New South Wales Governments to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.”