Water Minister Penny Wong has today refused to indicate satisfaction with her Government’s current flawed deal governing management of the Murray Darling Basin.
The refusal came in an interview on Adelaide radio, following Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s policy announcement last night to deliver true national management of the Basin.
Senator Birmingham: “…is she [Senator Wong] a hundred per cent satisfied with the referral of powers given to her by the States? Did she get everything she asked for in going into those negotiations and does she believe the Water Act is perfect?”
Spence Denny, presenter: “Just answer the question whether or not you’re happy with the power sharing arrangement?”
Senator Wong: “…obviously …there was a negotiation and yes, if you’re going back to where we were in 1900 and whenever when the Murray Darling agreements were first written, knowing what know about climate change, you might have developed a very different system…”
                        891 ABC Adelaide, 15 January 2010
“Minister Wong’s inability to say that current arrangements are as good as they could be is a ringing endorsement of the Coalition’s policy of delivering truly national management of the Basin,” Coalition Murray Darling spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
“Flaws in the deal struck by Kevin Rudd with Labor Basin State Premiers in 2008 have been highlighted this month, with the release of floodwaters downstream of the Menindee Lakes storage entirely reliant on the goodwill of New South Wales who retain total say.
“If Senator Wong was happy with current arrangements under the Rudd Government’s flawed deal, she would have said so clearly this morning.
“Her failure to endorse current arrangements underlines Senator Wong’s failure to achieve true national management, whereas the Coalition is committed to achieving it.”
A Coalition Government will call a referendum to refer powers necessary for effective management of the Murray Darling Basin, should the states remain unwilling to do so by mid-2012.