“Julia Gillard must today reveal why the Federal Labor Government’s smoke and mirrors funding con will leave South Australians paying higher water bills,” Coalition Murray-Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Labor promised $328 million to South Australia for the desalination plant at Port Stanvac.
The Australian Government will commit a further $228 million to the Adelaide Desalination Plant if capacity is expanded from 50 gigalitres (GL) to 100 GL per year, reducing South Australia’s reliance on the Murray River.
This funding will be in addition to $100 million that has already been committed for the 50 GL plant bringing the total Australian Government commitment to up to $328 million if the plant is expanded to 100 GL.
Penny Wong, then Minister for Climate Change and Water, media release, 12 May 2009
However, South Australian Treasury evidence to a parliamentary inquiry today reveals there will be a net benefit to the state budget of only $26 million.
“It has been revealed today that Federal Labor will claw back $302 million by reducing GST payments to SA,” Senator Birmingham said.
“While federal funding for the desalination plant was announced with much fanfare, I doubt Julia Gillard will be willing to give a straight answer about the sleight of hand that sees most of the funding given with one hand and taken back with the other.
“The provision of this federal funding was a condition of building the bigger desalination plant, but it seems South Australia was tricked into building it and that taxpayers will simply have to wear the higher cost.
“With the carbon tax looming, South Australian households face a triple whammy on their biggest household bills with electricity, gas and water set to rise thanks to Julia Gillard and Labor.”