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Thursday, 16 August 2007
Page: 258

Senator RONALDSON (1:27 PM) —The incorporated speech read as follows—

I am pleased to be able to participate in this debate today and to stress my strong support for this Bill and for the Government’s approach to water.

The State Labor Governments’ in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia should hang their collective heads in shame for allowing the situation to deteriorate to such an extent that the Commonwealth is required to step in to address a matter of national concern. That the action required is urgent is not in dispute and on that basis it beggars belief that the Brumby Labor Government in Victoria continues to play cheap politics.

The Victorian community quite rightly judges the Brumby Labor Government as totally abrogating its short, medium and long term responsibilities to the people of Victoria.

I will now turn to the extraordinary decision of the Brumby Labor Government to build what has been called the North-South Pipeline. This is a pipeline running from the Goulburn Valley via the Eildon Reservoir to Melbourne. There is extraordinary and justified anger about this proposal from many regional and rural communities. It is proposed that Melbourne will steal 75 gigalitres of water from the Goulburn system and in doing so will potentially seriously impact on the Bendigo pipeline which will put at risk Bendigo’s future critical water needs.

The North-South pipeline will reduce the water supply available for the Bendigo pipeline which is due to feed Lake Eppalock from next month. The threat to the supply is because there will be less water available in the Goulburn system because of the Melbourne pipeline. This is particularly so until the water savings I am about to refer to are made.

The Brumby Labor Government has justified the theft of the 75 gigalitres on the basis of savings being achieved from the piping of irrigation channels. This work is not even due to start for several years and given the Brumby/Bracks Labor Governments’ appalling record on infrastructure delivery it can be expected that there will be considerable further slippage.

The Brumby Labor Government believe they can achieve 225 gigalitres in water savings with a third of this water going to Melbourne, a third for environmental flows and a third to farmers. It is criminal that Melbourne gets first call on these proposed water savings and it is even more criminal that Melbourne will receive this water before the savings are even achieved.

There is one person who has been strangely silent in relation to the impact of the North-South pipeline on Bendigo. That person is Steve Gibbons who has refused to stand up to the Brumby Labor Government and in doing so he has failed the people of Bendigo. The question that the people of Bendigo will be asking is why their Federal Member of Parliament puts the interests of his State ALP colleagues ahead of the people who elected him.