The Senate’s decision to block the controversial Melbourne pipeline has been enthusiastically welcomed by Senator Simon Birmingham as an historic opportunity for the Rudd Government.
The Senate has this evening voted 33-20 in favour of an amendment to the Government’s Water Amendment Bill 2008 blocking the construction and operation of the heavily criticised Sugarloaf or ‘North-South’ Pipeline.
“At a time when everybody agrees the Murray-Darling Basin’s resources are stressed, it is beyond ridiculous to consider that we should be taking more water out of the system let alone send it to newly reliant urban centres outside the Basin,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Yet, at a time when all communities should be striving to reduce their reliance on the system, the North-South pipeline would connect Melbourne for the first time at a cost of 75 gigalitres a year. It is sheer lunacy.
“The Senate’s decision tonight will give the opportunity to move forward towards national management of the Murray-Darling Basin – the nation’s food bowl – and without the drain on its resources created by the North-South pipeline.
“Once this amended legislation passes the Senate, as all parties expect it will, I urge the Rudd Government to pass it in the House of Representatives.
“Meanwhile, Minister Wong can get on the phone to Victorian Premier Brumby straight away and discuss other options for securing Melbourne’s urban water supply.
“The Australian people, as represented by both Houses of Parliament, would be most supportive of the Commonwealth assisting Victoria find ways to meet its water demands without creating a new drain on the Murray.
“I welcome the Senate’s support for the principle that new cities not become reliant on the Murray, and urge the Rudd Government to make the most of this opportunity in the interests of the Murray-Darling system and the nation.”