May 11, 2007

Transcript of interview on Sky News – Budget reply, Labor’s Water Security plan

Transcript of interview on Sky News

Monday, 11 May 2007

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Kevin Rudd’s Budget reply speech, Labor’s Water Security Plan for Towns and Cities

CELINA EDMONDS: Manager of Opposition Business in Parliament and Labor’s water spokesman, Anthony Albanese spoke a short time ago to Sky’s political reporter, Kieran Gilbert.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well it was a responsible speech. But it was one that said that, to quote a former US president: “the time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining”. And we need to make sure that we ensure our prosperity beyond the mining boom, but also that we do it with fairness and that we make sure we fix the things such as the skills crisis, such as climate change and water crisis and address them in a long-term way which goes to the needs of the nation.

KIERAN GILBERT: It looks to me to be very clearly designed to reinforce the economic credibility, not to scare anyone. Is that what it was about?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well Kevin Rudd is a fiscal conservative. He stated that last night. He will make sure that we don’t live beyond our means. But he’ll also make sure that when we do spend money, we do it on things that build the nation.

It’s extraordinary that our productivity will go to zero in the coming year. And we believe that the government hasn’t done enough to make sure that we use the sunshine while the mining boom is on…

KIERAN GILBERT: Okay.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …to secure our prosperity.

KIERAN GILBERT: Let’s move to something… your specific responsibility and water. $250 million to fix pipes in urban areas, the mains and various other things. Peter Costello says the state governments have robbed dividends from the various water authorities and should have been investing it in the pipes and now you’re going to save them.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well Peter Costello is obsessed with the blame game. What Australian’s want is real solutions to our water crisis.

It took an election year for the government to do anything at all about water. On the 25th of January, John Howard announced a plan for the Murray-Darling Basin. Now, in the coming year, less than half of one percent of that $10 billion will actually be spent. So, for a time where there’s a water crisis, they’re not taking much action.

But the big missing element of the Prime Minister’s announcement in January was those 18 million Australians who live around our coasts, in our towns and major cities…

KIERAN GILBERT: You’ve put in 250 million. It’s not a lot of money though, is it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it’s a modest commitment which is a start. But that backs up the practical projects that we’ve also announced already. Such as support for the Western Corridor Water Recycling project in south east Queensland. Such as the Shell water recycling project in Geelong. Such as the Goldfields Superpipe to Ballarat and Bendigo.

The $250 million will also be backed up by matched funds from water authorities. So it will contribute half a billion dollars to fixing the problem which is there.

We lose 155 thousand megalitres of water in our major cities from pipes alone. This is a practical project. So that we have major projects on urban water. We have this practical project of fixing the pipelines and making sure the water actually gets delivered to the tap.

And as well as that we have our households plan, which will allow for $10 thousand of real interest free loans for water and energy saving devices.

Labor believes that there’s a role for the commonwealth in ensuring security of water supply regardless of where people live.

KIERAN GILBERT: Anthony Albanese, thanks for you time.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to talk to you.

ENDS