May 30, 2006

No Water, No Money

No Water, No Money

MEDIA RELEASE – SENATOR URSULA STEPHENS

30 May 2006

Officers from the Murray-Darling Basin Commission have revealed that despite a $500 million commitment in 2003 to the Living Murray initiative, no water will be returned to the Murray River before 1 July 2007.

Senator Ursula Stephens, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Science and Water and Chair of Labor’s Water Taskforce, said it was also revealed that not one dollar of Commonwealth money has been invested in returning the Murray River to health since 2003.

Senator Stephens asked officers of the Water and Murray Darling Branch at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry the following questions:

Senator Stephens: Mr Smalley…you said that no water has yet been returned as environmental flows to the Murray, but that you’re expecting the first water to be returned on 1 July 2007. Is that right?

Mr Smalley: That’s correct, Senator.

Senator Stephens: So there’s been no water. And you said that no money has been spent from the Commonwealth, but you’re hoping to spend $2.484 million this year. Is that right?

Mr Smalley: That’s correct, too.

Senator Stephens: So – no money, no water.

(Hansard, 25 May 2006, p. 82)

Not one drop of water has been returned to the Murray as a result of the 2003 Living Murray First Step Decision. This is a complete and utter failure of policy by the Howard Government.

While the Prime Minister is busy looking after the interests of the Liberal and National parties, he is completely ignoring the interests of regional Australia.

"Labor is committed to returning 1500 gigalitres back into the Murray – and restoring this national icon to its former glory," Senator Stephens said.