Billions of litres in potential water savings remain unavailable to irrigators or 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, but with no progress in Labor’s first term 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.
However, the Commonwealth now makes it clear nothing has happened even months beyond the deadline, saying that:
“Agreement by senior officials on implementing key initiatives at Menindee Lakes and Broken Hill has not yet been reached.”
“This is strike three for Julia Gillard when it comes to broken election promises to South Australians,” Senator Birmingham said.
“She won’t deliver the eastern Adelaide stormwater project, has backed away from accepting the recommendations of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and has now failed to reach agreement on improving Menindee Lakes.
“Like so many of her promises Julia Gillard’s pledge to deliver agreement and action to improve Menindee Lakes has been quickly broken. These were clearly promises made for an election with no intention of following through.
“All Australians expect every drop of water to be treated as a precious commodity, not to be the subject of endless election promises that lead nowhere.
“Julia Gillard should hang her head in shame at this cruel hoax that promised action for the long term health of the Murray but has delivered nothing but disappointment.”
*Clause 13 of the July 2010 Menindee Lakes memorandum of understanding (MOU), available at http://www.environment.gov.au/water/policy-programs/srwui/menindee-lakes/index.html