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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 3755

Murray-Darling Basin


Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (14:08): My question is to the Prime Minister. How is the government securing the future of the Murray-Darling Basin?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:09): I thank the member for Kingston for her question and I thank her for her continued advocacy on behalf of the people of her electorate and the people of South Australia about the future of the River Murray. I was very pleased to join her this morning, along with other South Australian government MPs—the member for Wakefield, the member for Makin, the member for Hindmarsh, the member for Adelaide and Mr Butler—as well as Senator Wong at an event organised by the Adelaide Advertiser to put a spotlight on the River Murray. As a result of that event, many people in this parliament today are wearing the badges that say they love the River Murray.

I would like to congratulate the Adelaide Advertiser for its continued focus on the future of the River Murray. Growing up in South Australia, I understand what it is like for the people of South Australia and the people of Adelaide to worry about the future of the river. I know what it is like to be in Adelaide in days of drought. I know what it is like to have that sense of relying for your water security on the river and knowing that what is available in South Australia depends so much on the conduct of others upstream. I understand that the people of Adelaide do worry about too much water having been taken out of the Murray and, as a result, they worry about its future. We are working through a—

Mr McCormack interjecting

The SPEAKER: The honourable member for Riverina will remain silent for the balance of the Prime Minister's answer.

Ms GILLARD: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I understand an alternative view is being expressed about whether or not we should focus on the River Murray. I would be very grateful for the member to put it very clearly on the record and then we will compare whether or not it equates with, for example, what the member for Sturt says. That would be a very interesting comparison. As for the government, we are very focused on making sure that this important national river system, the Murray-Darling Basin, is managed properly and managed nationally.

We are very focused on the needs of the river. We want to see environmental benchmarks, like the mouth of the river being open nine years out of 10, met. We want to make sure that there is security, that there is an understanding of what will happen for the future of the river and that we do have a reform that meets the needs of South Australia, that meets environmental benchmarks like keeping the mouth of the Murray open nine years out of 10 and that meets the needs of the people of South Australia. We will continue to work through to secure a Murray-Darling Basin plan. The people of South Australia have an opportunity to have their voices well and truly heard in that debate. I welcome them lifting their voices today, and we look forward to continuing to hear the voice of South Australia. (Time expired)