Kevin Rudd has the opportunity to pass strengthened and improved legislation rescuing the Murray-Darling Basin after its passage through the Senate today, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
The Senate has this afternoon passed the Rudd Government’s Water Amendment Bill 2008, with the blockage of Melbourne’s controversial pipeline and a $50 million emergency package for Lower Lakes and Coorong communities among key amendments.
“I am delighted with the Senate’s emphatic endorsement of key measures further assisting efforts to ensure the Murray-Darling Basin’s long-term viability and assistance for communities dependent on it,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“The Senate’s decision to block the construction and use of the Sugarloaf or ‘North-South’ pipeline is particularly significant.
“This pipeline would have seen Melbourne reliant on the Murray for the first time, ripping 75 gigalitres a year out of an already stressed system, at a time everyone else is trying to reduce their reliance on it.
“The pipeline can now only go ahead with Kevin Rudd’s say so – the ball is firmly in his court.
“While Labor insisted on ‘dividing’ and voting against our amendments, I urge Mr Rudd to do the right thing by the river in the national interest and now accept the Senate’s amendments.
“I sincerely hope Mr Rudd isn’t planning to try and explain why he won’t support the immediate release of at least $50 million to the Lower Lakes communities in crisis, or why he wants to rip an extra 75 gigalitres a year from environmental flows.
“The Senate has given Mr Rudd an improved Bill delivering greater water security to South Australians and others, and I urge him to make the most of this opportunity.”