The Labor Government is a one trick pony on Murray-Darling Basin reform, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
It follows today’s announcement of another round of water buybacks, for the southern part of the Basin and the Lower Balonne region of Queensland.
“When in trouble Labor have returned to the only thing they know how to do – non-strategic buybacks that all too often leave stranded assets and higher costs for those who remain,” Senator Birmingham said.
“The Gillard Government and Water Minister Tony Burke are unable to deliver a well considered and well balanced Basin Plan for the Murray-Darling and continue to buy water licences without knowing how much water will need to be recovered or in which regions.
“In some areas they have already bought back more water licences than are even required to meet the cuts suggested in the Guide to the proposed Basin Plan, thereby depriving these communities of a single dollar in infrastructure spending.
“Labor has spent less than budgeted each and every year on water saving infrastructure that would help maintain productive capacity, while spending more than budgeted each and every year on buybacks that reduce productive capacity and threaten communities.
“The Government this week confirmed just $437 million had been spent on water saving infrastructure, 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.
“It was also revealed the Government has failed to meet its own October deadline to progress re-engineering works at the Menindee Lakes storage system, while it has deferred a further $450 million in infrastructure spending beyond the forward estimates.
“Labor has been unable to deliver water saving infrastructure or a single element of Basin reform on time, leaving it nowhere to go but back to its only trick of water buybacks.”