May 6, 2007

Detail required in Budget for $10 billion water plan

Detail required in Budget for $10 billion water plan


6 May 2007

The Commonwealth has to lift its game on water.

Critical details were missing from the Prime Minister’s $10 billion water announcement in January.

Australia’s water crisis hasn’t occurred overnight, and it shouldn’t have taken an election year to get a response from the Howard Government.

After 11 years of inaction and complacency on climate change and the water crisis, the $10 billion plan was announced without crucial details over funding for water programs, timelines for action and the governance arrangements.

Farmers, irrigators, State Governments and the whole Australian community expect details on water programs in the Budget on Tuesday.

Australia’s water crisis requires competent leadership from all levels of government, and particularly from the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth has to lift its game to take the leadership role necessary to deal with the nation’s water crisis.

Earlier this week, draft Commonwealth legislation to reform management of the Murray Darling Basin was circulated to the States, but crucial pages on governance arrangements were blank.

Recently, the Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry, has expressed grave concerns about the failure of the Government to take economic advice when developing water and climate change policies.

Labor believes the Commonwealth has an important leadership role in ensuring each and every Australian – whether they are in rural or urban Australia – has a sustainable supply of water.