Water Minister Tony Burke is resorting to taxpayer funded advertising as he tries to have it both ways on the Murray-Darling Basin reform consultation process, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
“On the one hand, Mr Burke is avoiding stakeholder passions at Basin-wide consultation sessions by saying he doesn’t want to be part of the independent authority’s process,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Yet at the same time as he’s avoiding Australians whose lives and communities are on the line, he’s showering them with taxpayer funded ‘feel good’ advertising.
“These full page advertisements in metropolitan newspapers today are Government authorised and appear to have nothing to do with the Authority.
“Why is Tony Burke happy for this level of involvement, but not to be accountable before affected stakeholders for the Government’s failures?
“Tony Burke is leaving it to public servants to front angry communities with details of not only the Basin Authority’s Guide, but also related Government policies which he should rightly be answering questions on himself.
“The Government is also fuelling uncertainty the length and breadth of the Murray-Darling Basin by failing to respond to the Authority’s Guide in any way about policy measures it will undertake to meet whatever reductions the Authority will settle upon.
“Over the last three years Labor has manifestly failed to spend more than a pittance of the funds budgeted for water saving infrastructure upgrades and has shown no sign of improving this record.
“Just how much will the Gillard Government spend instead trying to snowball Australians over the failings of their water policies?
“If they’re serious, Tony Burke and the Gillard Government would stop hiding behind taxpayer funded ‘feel good’ advertising and front stakeholders worried about their futures.
“Otherwise we’ll know that Labor is keener on selling its failures than it is on listening.”