The Rudd Government’s failure to achieve national management of the Murray Darling Basin has reduced South Australian Premier Mike Rann’s influence to that of letter writing, Coalition Murray Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
South Australian Water Security Minister Karlene Maywald this morning said Premier Rann is writing to the Prime Minister and the New South Wales Premier to request a share of the hundreds of billions of litres of inflows resulting from floods in the Basin’s northern catchment.
“The supposedly historic national water reform deal that Mr Rann signed up to in 2008 left New South Wales with exactly the same powers of management over inflows to the Menindee Lakes and other water storages,” Senator Birmingham said.
“South Australia as a downstream state has no greater claim to these inflows than before, leaving Mr Rann to go begging cap in hand for more water, which is all his letter writing amounts to.
“I am reminded of former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, whose limited powers were lampooned in satirical movie Team America: World Police with his character saying:
“If you don’t show us the WMDs, we will be very angry, and we will send you a strongly worded letter.”
“Mr Rudd is equally impotent under his so-called national deal, which clearly leaves all the say over these waters with New South Wales.
“This situation is only made worse by the Rudd Government’s broken election promise to progress water saving infrastructure works at Menindee Lakes which Labor’s own policy document indicated could save 200 billion litres of water a year.
“The failure to progress such water saving infrastructure works means there is less water in the system for Mr Rann to beg for.
“Mr Rann must now regret having colluded with Mr Rudd to weaken the powers of the Commonwealth envisaged by the Howard Government when it announced the national takeover in 2007.
“This embarrassing situation could be avoided in future by taking the national water reform deal back to the negotiating table for a truly national outcome, or for the Commonwealth to take total control of our waterways with constitutional change if need be.”