In her third year as Water Minister, Senator Wong has finally committed to a $100 million investment in on-farm water infrastructure, Coalition Murray Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today
“Minister Wong and Kevin Rudd promised $5.8 billion for water-saving projects under the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program, yet only now are they even allocating the first $100 million in the key on-farm infrastructure area,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Minister Wong now wants praise for allocating just 1.7 per cent of this desperately needed funding three years into this Government’s term.
“Instead of self-congratulatory press releases, Minister Wong should be seeking forgiveness for having failed so dismally in progressing water-saving infrastructure programs during her tenure as Minister.
“Just this week we are witnessing the cost of Minister Wong’s biggest failure – the broken promise to re-engineer the Menindee Lakes. Billions of litres of water will be lost to evaporation and seepage as the soon to be full lakes still await their urgent priority upgrade, despite it having been at the top of Labor’s promised water infrastructure projects.
“All state priority projects identified as part of the national agreement are behind schedule, despite Minister Wong saying:
“I would reiterate that it’s time to hit the accelerator. Rapid progress of these projects is essential not only to address the urgent situation of many Basin communities, but also to support regional economic activity.”
Senator Penny Wong, 9 November 2009
“Infrastructure is critical to allowing irrigation communities to produce more with less water, as highlighted by ACIL Tasman’s study identifying significant productivity and environmental gains from better water efficiency.
“Minister Wong’s approach of all buybacks and no infrastructure simply jeopardises the future of rural communities.”