Apr 4, 2007

Treasury backs Labor’s concerns over PM’s water plan

Treasury backs Labor’s concerns over PM’s water plan


4 April 2007

Reports today indicate that Treasury Secretary, Mr Ken Henry, backs Labor’s concerns over the lack of detail in the Prime Minister’s 25 January $10 billion water announcement.

More effort went into writing the Prime Minister’s speech than into making sure the announcement was properly costed and dealt with important detail in water planning.

The Prime Minister’s $10 billion water announcement did not go to Cabinet, was not costed by Treasury or Finance and none of the National Water Commissioners were briefed until the morning of the speech.

Responsible economic managers should listen to the advice of Treasury and should not arrogantly dismiss their criticisms.

Today, the Minister for Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, angrily dismissed criticisms of the development of Government water policy by Treasury Secretary, Mr Ken Henry.

Mr Turnbull’s attack on the economic experts in Treasury on this morning’s AM program was astonishing. Mr Turnbull essentially claimed Treasury does not know anything about spending $10 billion dollars of tax-payers money.

The angry comment by Mr Turnbull that Treasury “doesn’t know anything about water” is directly contradicted by the evidence.

According to reports today, Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry, stated on 14 March 2007

The department had “worked hard to develop frameworks for the consideration of water reform and climate change policy. All of us would wish that we had been listened to more attentively over the past several years. There is no doubt that policy outcomes would have been far superior had our views been more influential.”

Water and climate change are two of the great challenges that face the Australian economy and threaten Australians jobs.

If the Government’s most senior economic expert doesn’t have faith in Mr Howard’s water and climate change policies then why should anyone else?