At least 16.7 billion litres of water has been pumped from the Murray Darling Basin to Melbourne under federal Labor’s watch.
Answers provided late Friday afternoon to outstanding Senate estimates questions asked by Coalition Murray Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham revealed the volume of water already pumped to Melbourne through the controversial North South Pipeline.
“At a time when we should be reducing the use of precious Murray Darling water it is simply scandalous that billions of litres should be pumped to a major city never before reliant on the river system,” Senator Birmingham said.
“This pipeline should never have been built and it is disappointing that Labor opposed every amendment and private members bill I proposed to stop the diversion of this water to Melbourne.”
The answer provided by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts revealed that:
The Victorian government provided advice that a total of 16.7 GL of water has been pumped down the North South Pipeline. The total volume of water extracted to the Pipeline during 2009-10 will be formally reported in the Sugarloaf Annual Report 2010.
“The North South Pipeline, built by the Victorian Labor government, received the formal approval of the federal Labor Government to pump up to 75 billion litres of water from the Murray Darling into Melbourne’s storages each year,” Senator Birmingham explained.
“Their approval of this pipeline demonstrates that Labor has the wrong approach to managing the scarce resources of the Murray Darling.
“Whatever water savings can be made from more efficient management of the Murray Darling should, first and foremost, be used to restore environmental assets and to help grow our food. 
“Cities like Adelaide and Melbourne should be becoming more self sufficient, not less. 
“That’s why Coalition policy aims to clean stormwater to a standard where it can be used in our existing water supplies. Our plan is about reducing the need for River Murray water over time, while Labor’s approach collects stormwater with no plans for use or reduced Murray reliance.
“Even Labor’s funding for Adelaide’s desalination plant produces no guaranteed savings for the Murray. Penny Wong keeps spending scarce taxpayer dollars with no returns for the Murray.
“The Murray Darling can’t afford another three years of Labor’s delays, inaction and wasted opportunities. 
“Only the Coalition will fix the Murray Darling by making the states comply with their obligations to make national management work, keeping open the option of a referendum if they don’t, and making every dollar count towards real action for the Murray.”