Senator Simon Birmingham today expressed disappointment at revelations the Rudd Labor Government had broken election commitments in relation to the National Plan for Water Security to the tune of at least $85 million.
Water Minister Penny Wong today told a Senate Additional Estimates committee that despite an election commitment to bring forward to 2007-08 an additional $100 million on the National Plan for Water Security, just $15 million had been allocated this financial year.
Worse still for the country’s ailing water systems, when the $50 million cuts made by the Rudd Labor Government’s so-called ‘razor gang’ announced earlier this month are taken into account, the new Government is actually spending a net $35 million less on the National Plan for Water Security.
“These are astonishing and disappointing revelations,” Senator Birmingham, a member of the Senate Standing Committee on the Environment, Communications and the Arts, said today.
“The River Murray and other systems are in crisis, departmental officials today confirmed 2007 was the driest year on record for the Murray-Darling Basin, yet the Rudd Labor Government is massively under-delivering on its election commitments in this area.
“Labor promised to spend $100 million more on the National Plan for Water Security but is actually spending $35 million less.
“Senator Wong also refused to answer questions about whether the Prime Minister had discussed with the Victorian Premier the impasse resulting from that state’s continuing intransigence on the National Plan.
“This is despite Mr Rudd, following December’s COAG meeting, being:
“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
“Senator Wong did confirm she will meet with Victorian Water Minister Tim Holding this Monday, and I sincerely hope for the sake of our rivers that she makes significantly more progress than the Government has to date.”