In light of the latest revelations of waste and mismanagement in the Menindee Lakes system, I call on Water Minister Penny Wong to end the farcical secrecy over the Lakes’ management and future infrastructure upgrades.
I urge the Minister to undertake the following:
1) Establish a public inquiry into the incorrect forecasting of inflows, which saw the bottom two lakes opened to water on the basis that they would be filled an assumption now found to be incorrect meaning billions of litres will be wasted to seepage and evaporation with no storage benefit.
2) Release all reports and studies into reengineering options to increase efficiency in the lakes, noting that more than $12 million of studies have recently been finished but many remain secret.
3) Urgently release a timeline outlining exactly how and when Labor would finally live up to its 2007 election promise to reengineer the Menindee Lakes, delivering savings of up to 200 billion litres.
Earlier this week I toured the Menindee Lakes and heard first hand that simple infrastructure works, some costing as little as $25 million, could have improved management of these floodwaters and reduced water losses.
The Howard Government budgeted $400 million to fix the Lakes in 2007 but, since then, Rudd Labor has spent millions on consultants’ reports, but delivered no actual improvements.
A public inquiry into the errors in forecasting that led to the waste should also consider the ridiculously complex management rules of the Menindee Lakes, which sees arbitrary storage levels determine whether the NSW Government or Commonwealth Government are in charge and what role these complex arrangements played in the management breakdown.
It is clear that billions of litres of water has been lost thanks to inaccurate forecasting and inadequate infrastructure. The environment and our farmers deserve better.