Jay Weatherill’s fascination of where the federal Coalition stands on the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan ignores one simple and salient fact Labor occupies the Federal Government benches, not the Coalition.
Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister. Tony Burke is the Water Minister. South Australian Labor MPs Penny Wong and Mark Butler sit in the Labor Cabinet.
It is the Federal Labor Government that has appointed all of the board members of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and its chief executive.
It is under the Federal Labor Government that the proposed Basin Plan has been prepared and, unless there is an early election, it will be a Labor Minister who tables a final Basin Plan in the Parliament.
And it is under the Federal Labor Government that progress on water saving infrastructure projects has proceeded at a snail’s pace or, in the case of fixing the Menindee Lakes, been completely abandoned.
So, Jay, if you oppose this plan, which currently proposes the return of 2,750 billion litres in extra environmental flows, your argument should be with your Labor mates, like Gillard, Burke, Wong and Butler.
And while you’re thinking about this, Jay, perhaps you could also explain why the Labor Government of Mike Rann, in which you were Environment Minister, signed up to this process without setting any conditions about whether any of the extra environmental flows would be recovered from South Australian water users.
You could also explain how it is that the Labor Government in which you have always been a Cabinet Minister has spent $2.2 billion building a desalination plant that does next to nothing to return any water to the Murray.
The fascination Jay Weatherill has with the Federal Coalition’s approach to Murray-Darling reform, when Julia Gillard’s silence on her views is deafening, demonstrates that he is more interested in playing politics with this issue than actually getting an outcome for South Australia.