The Gillard Government has today confirmed the enormous extent of its underspending from the $5.9 billion program designed to deliver water saving infrastructure, Coalition Murray-Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
In response to questions from Senator Birmingham in Question Time today, Senator Stephen Conroy revealed the Government’s total spending to date is less than the $450 million it deferred in last week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).
At the 31st of October 2010, $437 million of administered funding had been spent under SRWUIP [Sustainably Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program].
Stephen Conroy, Senate, 16 November 2010
“This $437 million is just a pittance of the $5.9 billion left on the table by the former Howard Government and budgeted since Labor took office in 2007,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Today’s figure is actually less even than the $450 million Labor deferred last week until at least 2015-16, well beyond the four-year forward estimates.
“Disappointingly for Basin communities reliant on the system’s health, Senator Conroy today refused to answer the second part of my question as to the resulting quantity of water saved.
“Labor continues to fail the Murray-Darling Basin and its communities on multiple counts underspending each and every year on water saving infrastructure that would help maintain productive capacity, while overspending on buybacks that reduce capacity.
“Labor is putting the entire Murray-Darling reform process at risk, with Water Minister Tony Burke failing to ensure correct interpretation of the Water Act, failing to ensure thorough socio-economic analysis and ever increasing delays in the Basin Plan’s finalisation.
“Today’s revelation comes on the same day it was revealed the Government has failed to meet its own deadline to progress re-engineering works at the Menindee Lakes storage system, further proof it is unable to deliver water saving infrastructure or a single element of Basin reform on time.”