Mar 6, 2007

Coalition of the unwilling on water reform

Coalition of the unwilling on water reform

MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

6 March 2007

The National Party is undermining a central feature of John Howard’s national water plan, making the Government a coalition of the unwilling on water reform.

All levels of the National Party now oppose John Howard’s plan to use $3 billion from the $10 billion fund to “adjust water entitlements in the Murray-Darling Basin”.

John Howard has got to decide what’s more important, the national interest or the National Party.

On 25 January 2007 the Prime Minister made a strong commitment to acquire water when he announced that: The Government will allocate up to $3 billion to adjust water entitlements in the Murray-Darling Basin. … We could muddle through as has occurred in the past, but frankly, that gets us nowhere. Without decisive action we face the worst of both worlds.

Today, the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National Party, Mark Vaile, is reported telling the Sydney Morning Herald that the $3 billion allocated in the plan for this purpose should be used only as a last resort.

Last week, the NSW National Party stated it also opposed key parts of John Howard’s water plan and would vote against it in the NSW Parliament.

The National Party’s Minister for Agriculture, Peter McGauran, has long opposed the Government buying back water entitlements.

By opposing water reform, the National Party has ceased to represent the true, long-term interests of rural and regional Australia.

The National Party and its vested interests are at the core of the water problem, and they are also at the core of the Howard Government.

Addressing the over-allocation of water entitlements in the Murray Darling Basin must be a central component of resolving our water crisis.