Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Parliament House, Canberra
11 October 2006
Subject: Bulletin article about Malcolm Turnbull, Water issues
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I want to talk about the Bob Carr article today in the Bulletin ‘Water on the Brain’ about Malcolm Turnbull. Malcolm Turnbull has used millions of words about water, but not a single drop has flowed into the Murray or into our urban water supplies as a result of any action he has taken as Parliamentary Secretary of Water.
If Malcolm Turnbull’s words were water we wouldn’t have a water crisis in this country.
Malcolm Turnbull has failed when it comes to water for our rural communities. He has failed because, in spite of announcing water trading six months ago, there hasn’t been a single voluntary acquisition of water by the Commonwealth. That is because the contract that has been given to people is some 75 pages long if they want to participate in this scheme.
When it comes to urban water, Malcolm Turnbull has failed to actually support the projects that have been put forward. Just one of those, a $155 million project in western Sydney, would recycle some 27 billion litres of grey water and yet we have seen no response from Malcolm Turnbull whatsoever to that. What we have had is that he has written to the NSW government with the proposal to mine the contaminated aquifer around Botany which would also place in danger, due to subsidence, many thousands of homes in that area – a completely impractical proposal.
So what I say to Malcolm Turnbull is that Federal Labor is quite prepared to stand hand in hand with the Government if it has practical proposals in urban water issues and in rural water issues, but he should join with Federal Labor’s proposal to return some 1,500 gigalitres into the Murray if we are going to breathe life into the Murray, end the political drought when it comes to action on water policy and on urban water, join Labor with our target for 30% recycling of wastewater by 2015.
JOURNALIST: What do you think the prospects are for the next six months?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It is very clear that whilst the government continues to ignore climate change then it is very hard to take them seriously on water.
What we need to do is have a serious debate about the impact that the prolonged decrease in rainfall particularly in southern Australia will have.
We need real practical responses to it – not on the one hand talk about care and talk about compensation, but without actually looking at what the source of the problem is and what the practical solutions are.
The Federal government had a proposal from the Queensland Government in 2004 to buy out Cubbie Station and to return many gigalitres to the Murray Darling system, and it failed and refused to participate in that. That was clearly a mistake.