Water Minister Penny Wong should make clear how she would vote in a Murray Darling Basin referendum, Coalition Murray Darling spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
A Coalition Government will call a referendum to refer powers necessary for effective, independent management of the Basin’s water resources, should the States remain unwilling to do so by mid-2012.
“Senator Wong has already seen fit to begin talking down a referendum’s chances of electoral success, but without so far revealing whether she would be campaigning for or against the proposition,” Senator Birmingham said today.
Senator Wong: “I’m happy to talk about Tony Abbott’s proposition … which we know ultimately will be determined by states such as New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria … what I am saying is we know a referendum has to pass the majority of states by a majority of voters…”
            FIVEaa, 21 January 2010
“As Labor’s Water Minister with current Federal responsibility, it would be more constructive for Senator Wong to declare whether or not she would be voting ‘yes’, and indeed whether or not she would be campaigning for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote.
“This is especially so, given Senator Wong has already refused to indicate satisfaction with her Government’s current flawed deal governing management of the Basin, which has left States fighting in the High Court and squabbling over floodwater flows.
Senator Birmingham: “…is she [Senator Wong] a hundred per cent satisfied with the referral of powers given to her by the States? Did she get everything she asked for in going into those negotiations and does she believe the Water Act is perfect?”
Spence Denny, presenter: “Just answer the question whether or not you’re happy with the power sharing arrangement?”
Senator Wong: “…obviously …there was a negotiation and yes, if you’re going back to where we were in 1900 and whenever when the Murray Darling agreements were first written, knowing what know about climate change, you might have developed a very different system…”
                        891 ABC Adelaide, 15 January 2010
“If Senator Wong was happy with current arrangements under the Rudd Government’s flawed deal, she would have taken any one of several opportunities to say so clearly.
“Having declared she is happy to talk about the proposition, Senator Wong should now declare her position on it.”