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Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Page: 941

Mr HOCKEY (2:54 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Has the government undertaken modelling on the impact on prices of proposed cuts to the water allocations in the Murray-Darling Basin?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for North Sydney very much for the question—

Mr Dutton interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The question has been asked and the Prime Minister is responding.

Ms GILLARD —What I can say to the member for North Sydney about the process that is being gone through at the moment is that it is a guide. And because it is a guide for further consultation leading to a draft plan and then leading ultimately to a plan that the minister signs off and brings to the parliament—

Mr Dutton —Yes or no?

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will resume her seat. The member for Dickson will leave the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Dickson then left the chamber.

Honourable members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —I take it that he burped.

Opposition members—He bowed.

The SPEAKER —Well, he bowed with a noise.

Honourable members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Sorry. I call the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister will respond to the question.

Ms GILLARD —As I was saying to the member for North Sydney, there is a process—a process on the water act, a process being undergone by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority—

Mr Symon interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Deakin will withdraw that remark.

Mr Symon —I withdraw, Mr Speaker.

Mr Pyne —On a point of order on direct relevance, Mr Speaker: the Prime Minister could not have been asked a more direct question. Has modelling been undertaken or not?

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Sturt will resume his seat. I think it was a short, well-constructed question, but I cannot dictate the manner in which it is being responded to. I think that if the House waited a little bit with bated breath they would see that an answer could be considered directly relevant. That may be a vain hope of the chair, but I believe that that was what the answer was building to. I call the Prime Minister.

Ms GILLARD —I am outlining for good reason the process which is in the hands of an independent authority, because it goes to the member for North Sydney’s question. What we are intending to do is to have the Murray-Darling Basin Authority go through this proper process. At the same time, the parliament will go through a proper process through the committee led by the member for New England. I understand that the member for North Sydney, inspired by the Leader of the Opposition, may be in the fearmongering business and that he may be wanting to spark a campaign here, but on this side of the House we are determined to work through this complex reform—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will resume her seat. I simply suggest to those on my left that, if I was not having to deal with them and they were allowing me clearly to listen to the answer, we might proceed in the way that they wish to proceed. But all the ruction in the way that it is put to me prevents me from actually hearing what is going on. The Prime Minister will be directly relevant to the question. She will not enter into debate across the table.

Ms GILLARD —We will pursue these reforms. We will pursue them under the relevant legislation guided by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority with the parliamentary committee. There is only one question here: is the opposition seeking to wreck this reform? (Time expired)