Coalition, Greens and Independent Senators have today expressed unusually strong and united opposition to the Victorian Government’s Sugarloaf Pipeline now under construction, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
The parties have taken the rare step of issuing a consensus dissenting report to the Government-controlled majority report for the Senate inquiry into the Water Amendment (Saving the Goulburn and Murray Rivers) Bill 2008.
The Bill seeks to stop construction of the Sugarloaf or ‘North-South’ Pipeline as well as prohibit the extraction of any further water from the Murray-Darling Basin for new uses outside the Basin including the 75 billion litres a year planned for Melbourne’s urban use.
Senator Birmingham is Deputy Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts, which conducted the inquiry into the Bill he introduced.
“That Liberal, Nationals and Greens Senators, together with independent Senator Nick Xenophon, have come together in this way is an indication of the strength of feeling against the Government’s position,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Non-Government Senators taking part in this inquiry are unanimous that:
· The Water Amendment (Saving the Goulburn and Murray Rivers) Bill 2008 (hereafter ‘the bill’) should pass;
· Water from the extremely stressed Murray-Darling Basin should not be taken or used for new purposes outside the Basin;
· uncertainties surrounding the claimed water savings upon which operation of the Sugarloaf Pipeline is based should be the subject of an independent audit; and
· construction of the Sugarloaf Pipeline should be abandoned.
“The Rudd and Victorian Labor Governments cannot continue to ignore the strength of feeling and opposition to the environmental vandalism of extracting an additional 75 billion litres a year for a city that has alternative options.
“Given the severity of the crisis facing the Murray-Darling Basin and the weight of evidence received by the committee supporting the aims of this bill, Labor must admit the pipeline is a mistake and put an end to it now.”
Note: The majority and dissenting reports will be available in full on the Senate Committee’s website at http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/eca_ctte/water_amendment_bill_2008/index.htm or will be provided on request