Feb 8, 2007

Questions without notice: Water (2)

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE – Water (2)

8 February 2007

Mr ALBANESE (2.33 p.m.)—My question, which is not about chickens, is directed to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Does the minister support the fact that, under the new management arrangements for the Murray-Darling Basin proposed by the Prime Minister, farmers will not be able to construct an on-farm dam unless it complies with the strategic plan for the basin, administered by the Department of the Environment and Water Resources here in Canberra?

Mr McGAURAN—I thank the honourable member for his question. I would not have expected the Labor Party to give me an opportunity to speak about a $10 billion water package in this way. The benefits of the water package are well known. Irrigators are supporting it; they know what is in it for them. They know that this is a historic effort by the Commonwealth government to support their industries and to give them a more secure, sustainable future. We will be consulting with the rural industries. Irrigators in rural communities are the starting point of this package, as well as water efficiencies and returning water to the environment.