Another Labor election campaign platform is unravelling at a cost of millions of litres in lost water savings, Coalition Murray-Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard was keen in August to make election mileage out of an agreement with New South Wales on operation of the Menindee Lakes storage system, itself flowing from a 2007 election promise to accelerate infrastructure investment.
“One of the most significant challenges in the Murray Darling Basin is one step closer to being resolved, with the Gillard Labor Government signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the New South Wales Government on the future of Menindee Lakes … It gives the green light to a final feasibility assessment that will be completed in October…”
Julia Gillard and Penny Wong, media release, 10 August 2010
The July 2010 agreement, nearly three years after the promise of investment acceleration, involved a deadline of October 2010* for the assessment of feasibility and other work, and for a decision on whether or not to proceed.
“Labor’s own October deadline has been and gone with no word on any go-ahead for these significant water saving works,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“All we’ve seen is Labor’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) which pushes back $450 million in water saving infrastructure beyond the four-year forward estimates, at the same time as finalisation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is further delayed.
“Labor only made three promises on water during the election. Every single one of their election promises on water is now in tatters, with Tony Burke back-flipping on Julia Gillard’s promise to deliver whatever the Murray-Darling Basin Authority recommended, the SA Government refusing to provide matching funding for the Waterproofing Eastern Adelaide stormwater project and the latest claims about fixing Menindee Lakes already running behind schedule.
“If the delivery of water reform matched Labor’s rhetoric the Murray would be a river of gold by now.
“Instead the river is stagnating from a failure of the Government to successfully deliver a single element of Basin reform on time, or even spend budgeted funds on water saving infrastructure.”
*Clause 13 of the July 2010 Menindee Lakes memorandum of understanding (MOU), available at http://www.environment.gov.au/water/policy-programs/srwui/menindee-lakes/index.html