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Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Page: 4566


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (21:46): I rise to make some comments on the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Amendment (Scheme Enhancements) Bill 2012. As speakers before me have said, the bill allows the Commonwealth minister to determine changes to the WELS Scheme without changes being required to be made to state and territory legislation. The coalition government created the world's first national scheme of this kind, providing for water efficiency labels on shower heads, washing machines and other things of that nature. Other colleagues have covered very well most of the issues relating to the bill, so in the few minutes available to me I particularly want to give some attention to the issue of water efficiency.

It is ironic, colleagues, that having seen the government follow on from the very good work of the coalition in water efficiency in this area, comparatively we have seen a complete lack of understanding and attention to detail by this Labor government when it comes to water efficiency in the Murray-Darling Basin. The government has spent $1.8 billion on water buybacks in the Murray-Darling Basin but just $413 million on infrastructure investments that deliver water into the basin. I know that my colleague Senator Joyce has been doing an extremely good job leading the charge in this—

Senator Farrell: Madam Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order on relevance. This bill relates to the issue of water efficiency, not the Murray-Darling Basin.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Pratt ): Senator Nash, I am sure you will continue on the question of water efficiency.

Senator NASH: Despite the good senator's comments, water efficiency is precisely what I am talking about. With the kinds of water efficiency measures dealt with in this particular bill, Labor have followed on the good work of the coalition. I was merely contrasting that with the complete lack of attention they have given to water efficiency in the Murray-Darling Basin. For every one litre of water that has been saved through infrastructure investment in water efficiency, five litres have been taken out of communities through buybacks. It is ironic, colleagues, that here we have a bill before us that deals with water efficiency in a particular area and makes further adjustments in that area—an area in which the coalition led the way—and yet this government clearly has no idea or concept of the importance of water efficiency in the Murray-Darling Basin.

How stupid it is for this government to suck water out of the Murray-Darling Basin and out of these communities when so much more can be done through water efficiency and through investment in infrastructure and works and measures. Yet we see this government paying scant attention to that and indeed proceeding with projects like the Twynham buyback—$303 million of stupidity from this government. The water efficiency measures that will be taken as a result of this particular bill are welcome. The bill follows on from the coalition's good work in this area. But it is contrasted with the government's ineptitude when it comes to water efficiency in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Stephens ): Order! The time allotted for the consideration of this bill has expired.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.