Transcript of doorstop interview – Marrickville Town Hall, Marrickville
Friday, 18 May 2007
E & OE – PROOF ONLY
Subject: Recent rain; ending the blame game on water; Labor’s urban water plan; Alan Cadman and the extreme right wing takeover of the NSW Liberal Party.
ALBANESE: Firstly, we of course welcome the rain that’s falling outside, but most importantly we welcome the rain that’s falling where it’s most needed in western NSW and indeed northern Victoria. That will be welcome relief for those hard working Australian families who have been suffering after years of drought.
It’s pretty clear that the Howard Government has been complacent about taking real action on our water crisis and climate change. Today we’ve heard the Prime Minister once again be critical of state governments.
It’s pretty clear that what Australians want is to end the blame game and they want leadership to take real action on our water crisis regardless of where they live, whether in rural and regional Australia or the 18 million Australians who live in our towns and cities.
John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull can’t sit on the sidelines and complain about a lack of action on urban water when they refuse to show any leadership whatsoever on this critical issue.
The Budget showed that just one half of one percent of the $10 billion water plan will actually be spent in the coming financial year. As well, back in 2004, the Government promised and committed $2 billion to the Australian Water Fund and yet we know from budget papers that half of that revenue has gone back into consolidated revenue and Treasury coffers, rather than being spent on important urban water projects.
Labor has a plan for urban water. We’ll support major infrastructure projects around the nation. We have a 30 per cent recycling target of wastewater by the year 2015. We have our $10,000 interest free loans for households that will support families to renovate and make their homes energy and water efficient.
In Kevin Rudd’s Budget reply, Labor announced a $250 million plan, with matched funds meaning it would contribute half a billion dollars, to make a start on fixing up that infrastructure such as leaky pipes to make sure that waste is reduced and water actually flows through to the taps.
Australians want action on climate change and dealing with long term water issues, but they also want practical action dealing with water where they live. Particularly in relation to our urban water crisis.
REPORTER: Mr Turnbull came this morning and said something very similar to Mr Howard, he said that there’s been systematic under-funding of water infrastructure by the states over the last 20 years. He didn’t discriminate between Labor and Liberal governments, do you think there’s some truth to that comment?
ALBANESE: It’s quite clear that historically States and Commonwealth and all levels of Government could have done more on water issues.
Historically in Australia water has been over allocated, it’s been undervalued and misdirected. We need a different approach because climate change will result in a long term diminishing of our water supply.
Australia needs leadership, but it’s not good enough to have a Commonwealth Water Minister who’s just critical of what Governments done in the past, but doesn’t provide any solutions or examples of what Government should be doing right now and into the future.
It simply isn’t good enough for the Commonwealth to say they have a national water plan and yet that water plan excludes any action for the 18 million Australians who live around our towns and cities.
I call upon Malcolm Turnbull and the Government to support Labor’s water security plan that we announced as part of Kevin Rudd’s budget reply.
I call upon them also to support good urban water infrastructure projects. It shouldn’t have taken an election year for the Howard Government to acknowledge that water was an issue and it shouldn’t take an election year for them to spend money that has been put aside for water.
Australians will be very disturbed indeed that on the 25th of January the Prime Minister gave a speech in which he identified the need for urgent action on water and yet just one half of one percent of that $10 billion that was announced, will be spent in the coming financial year.
REPORTER: On another matter, could we just a quick word about the preselection of the Liberals, you’ve said that there’s a far right takeover trying to push Alan Cadman out of his seat. Do you think that’s a fair comment?
ALBANESE: I didn’t think I‘d be standing here defending Alan Cadman. But it’s pretty clear that over a period of time moderate voices within the Liberal Party have been purged.
We’ve seen Bruce Baird of course in the electorate of Cook announce his retirement.
We know that in the NSW State Liberal Party the shameful treatment of John Brogden by his own Party was an outrage, with almost extraordinary consequences as a result of the activity of those within the Liberal Party who were determined to undermine him.
We know that there are extreme right wing elements centred around David Clarke in the NSW Parliament, who’ve been prepared to promote an extreme right wing agenda.
Alan Cadman’s preselection in Mitchell is perhaps the latest example of that.
And when you have Mr Hawke who when he was president of the Young Liberals promoted an extreme right wing agenda, I’d be very concerned that now having finished off the moderates within the Liberal Party of the NSW division they now appear to be going after people who were either in the centre or indeed the right wing of the Liberal Party, but not right wing enough.
It’s up to the Prime Minister if he wants to maintain the Liberal Party as something other than a voice for an extreme right wing agenda, to come out and support Alan Cadman and make sure that he’s preselected.