He says it requires the Commonwealth and states to work together with the communities, industry and environmental groups and that while the Authority has an important role to play it’s neither empowered, nor equipped, to undertake the entire complex task.
The Opposition says it’s a crisis of the Government’s making.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well anybody who believes that this reform process is on track and on time is deluding themselves and that’s clearly what the Prime Minister’s doing in this instance. This process is in deep crisis.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Coalition’s water spokesman, Simon Birmingham, wants to sheet the blame home to the Minister, Tony Burke.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: In the end, Mike Taylor is the person who fronted up to the dozens of community meetings throughout the Basin and heard the angry concerns of people throughout the Basin communities.
Tony Burke didn’t do that but with the departure of his Authority Chair, Water Minister Tony Burke can no longer hide, he’s going to have to front up and explain just how he is going to get this process back on track.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Opposition says environmental, social and economic considerations need to be balanced but won’t say whose interpretation of the Water Act it believes is correct.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I’m not a lawyer, Alex, and the best thing I can do is look at the legal advice presented and I’ve seen a Minister put interpretation on legal advice in one direction and the Authority putting it in a different direction.
Now, the Minister and the statutory Authority are the ones who need to get themselves on the same page. If the Act needs to be amended then let’s look at proposals from the Government.
But what we really need at present is for a Minister to show some leadership and until now in this Basin reform process Tony Burke appears to have been the last one to show leadership and has been standing at the back of the queue letting everyone else take charge.