Julia Gillard has been caught out grossly exaggerating the impact of Labor’s water buybacks during her visit to Adelaide this week, Coalition Murray Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Ms Gillard claimed that “Labor has bought back one out of every 20 litres of the Murray-Darling Basin’s irrigation water and returned it to the rivers – some 900 billion litres”.
“However, at least 30 per cent of this water does not exist,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“According to Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts figures*, in some states as little as 33 per cent of the claimed buyback is likely to make it into the river system on average in any one year.
“South Australians will be reminded of Mike Rann grabbing headlines with ultimately empty election eve promises of 400 gigalitres from upstream floods.
“Ms Gillard sought to bask in the spotlight of headlines proclaiming her as the “River Queen” during her visit to Adelaide this week. But her exaggerated claims more closely resemble the behaviour of a river snake.
“It would require floods of biblical proportions across the entire Basin for her 900 billion litre claim to ever reach fruition. In fact, last year just 20 billion litres of hundreds claimed to have been purchased ever made it to the Lower Lakes in South Australia.
“Those who care about our rivers deserve better from their Prime Minister than claims based on lies, damn lies and statistics.
“By contrast, the Coalition has pledged to continue water buybacks, but to:
  • Undertake them in a strategic manner, that actually delivers on caps set under the national Basin Plan.
  • Review the way in which they are undertaken, to ensure sellers get a fair price, taxpayers get a good deal and the river actually gets the water.
“Further, the Coalition has committed to buying 150 billion litres of water on the temporary trading market during 2010-11 to flow into Lake Alexandrina, with the aim of seeing 100 billion litres of freshwater flow into the Coorong for the first time in years.
“Unlike Labor, every drop of this 150 billion litres will be real, tangible, actual water. If you touch our water you’ll get wet, with Labor’s you’re just left with a dry, empty feeling.”