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Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Page: 670

Mr ABBOTT (2:41 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. It refers to the statement of the New South Wales Independent Pricing Tribunal yesterday that water prices in New South Wales would increase by an average of 35 per cent by 2014. I ask the minister: by how much more will water prices increase as a result of the cutbacks proposed in the Murray-Darling Basin’s guide?

Mr BURKE (Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) —I am not sure whether the figures that the Leader of the Opposition is referring to there include urban water as well. If they do, I can assure him that cutbacks to the Murray-Darling Basin have no impact on Warragamba Dam, have no impact on Woronora Dam and have no impact on water pricing generally. With respect to anything dealing with irrigation, I remind the Leader of the Opposition of two things. Firstly, the extent to which any cuts have been floated at the moment are not government policy. Secondly, to the extent that any reductions that would eventually be made through any future sustainable diversion limits are reached through improvements to infrastructure they would have no impact on productivity and the sorts of impacts he was referring to. If you improve the efficiency by which you use the water then you do not have the same impact on price as what has been described there. There are presumptions in the report, which were described just then by the Leader of the Opposition, which lead to the conclusions that he has just reported to the parliament which do not match the policy of this government.