The Prime Minister yesterday confirmed he is passing the buck on the River Murray, contrary to his pre-election assurance that the buck would stop with him.
Senator Simon Birmingham said Mr Rudd’s refusal to engage himself in negotiations with Victoria over national management of the river was a breach of faith with South Australians and a break of the promise he made at last year’s COAG meeting.
“South Australians will be rightly enraged that Mr Rudd flies into Adelaide and tells us to be patient about negotiations on a national agreement to fix the Murray, yet confirms that he’s not about to lift a finger to speed discussions up,” Senator Birmingham said.
While asking to be given a “bit more time” to address national management of the Murray, Mr Rudd said in Adelaide yesterday that:
“discussions with Victoria will be conducted at her (Senator Wong’s) level and in due course at my level once we have narrowed the gap in terms of negotiating positions”.
“This sounds like Mr Rudd is sitting back, leaving all of the heavy lifting for Senator Wong and just wants to stroll in and take the final glory if and when Senator Wong gets Victoria’s Labor government to agree on terms for national management of our most important water resource,” Senator Birmingham said.
“South Australians view the future of the Murray as one of the most important issues facing our state. We want a Prime Minister who will engage on this issue, not simply pass the buck. It is particularly galling given Mr Rudd promised that in government the buck would stop with him.
“Mr Rudd has broken his promise that the buck would stop with him and broken his promise to Kevin Foley at COAG last year that he was:
“committed to himself taking both Premiers (Rann & Brumby) aside and dealing with the impasse … in the New Year … as soon as he’s able to.”
Kevin Foley, SA Acting Premier, 5AA, 21 December 2007
“It would seem that commitment has since evaporated, just like so much of our valuable River Murray water.
“While Mr Rudd was passing the buck yesterday I was spending time with tourism operators around Murray Bridge and Mannum who are still offering a fantastic experience despite the challenges the river faces. But these small business people are running out of patience and want action from Mr Rudd, not more buck passing.”