Last night’s budget confirms that the Government’s commitment to real change in the Murray-Darling Basin is lukewarm at best said Senator Barnaby Joyce and Senator Simon Birmingham today.
“It’s now almost 3 years since Labor launched its Water for the Future reform. Since then its record has been nothing but delay and disaster.
“Last night’s budget reveals another $400 million delay in funding for water saving infrastructure projects in the Murray-Darling.[1]
“This is a back to front approach. Every year Labor has spent more on water buybacks than budgeted and less on infrastructure than hoped for. We should seek to invest in communities first, not count the bodies later.
“The Basin Plan is almost a year behind schedule, the draft plan caused a near riot in Basin communities last year and the Government lost the confidence of the first Chair it appointed to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. It’s just another huge stuff-up that this government has presided over.”
“This budget contains yet more delay and deferral from Labor on water saving infrastructure projects that would help communities meet Sustainable Diversion Limits under a final Basin Plan without losing productivity or jobs” said Senator Simon Birmingham.
“Water saving infrastructure provides win-win outcomes for irrigators, communities and the environment yet Labor continues to show preference for buying water over investing in the future of regional communities.
“Every deferral of water saving infrastructure spending makes it that much harder and that much more painful for communities to adjust to the Basin Plan. Tony Burke must stop ignoring infrastructure as part of the solution to problems in the Murray-Darling Basin.”

[1] Comparison of figures between Budget 2011-12 and MYEFO 2010-11:
Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Portfolio Additional Estimates Statement 2010-11, p. 52
Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure
Budget 11-12
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Portfolio Budget Statement 2011-12, p. 59
– 174,339
– 345,288
  – 401,797