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Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Page: 7332

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) (12:24 PM) —As I said, there is this gap between what the coalition say on their feet and what the amendment says. This is a legislative instrument that requires us, prior to our receiving projects, to set out predetermined amounts, predetermined targets. I have not had an irrigator community put what you are putting to me, Senator Nash—

Senator Nash interjecting—

Senator WONG —No; it is true. The point that the coalition appears to be missing is that this is not a central planning process. These are projects, whether they are private irrigator or state priority projects—which may be state government and private irrigator—whether they are on or off farm, that are driven by those project proponents and assessed against guidelines. I absolutely agree that we need appropriate transparency. I have gone through an appropriate due diligence to ensure the savings because, as I previously said, one of the rationales for the taxpayer funding this is that this is actually about contributing to an adjustment in the basin. So of course, therefore, you will need water savings.

My point is I do not believe this is the best way to do it. I do not believe the amendment matches what the coalition senators are saying. Rather than the parliament or the minister through regulation determining who should bring forward projects, we should remember that there has to be an economic imperative around this. There have to be private irrigators who think they can make this work. They want money from the government for this sort of investment, this sort of restructuring, because they think they can make it work. It has to be driven from their end rather than from senators telling people what to do.

Question negatived.