Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Vic Govt under fire over water levels -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Vic Govt under fire over water levels

Broadcast: 03/05/2007

Reporter: Helen Brown

The Victorian Government has been accused of failing to act on water security after revelations
that water storages have fallen to below 30 per cent in main reservoirs.

Transcript

LISA MILLAR: The Victorian Government is under pressure following revelations that water storages
in the state's nine main reservoirs have dropped below 30 per cent. The Bracks Government has been
accused of hiding the truth about the levels and not doing enough about water security; however
it's gained support in another area - in its battle with the Federal Government to release more
details about the multi billion dollar plan for the Murray Darling Basin. Helen Brown reports.

HELEN BROWN, REPORTER: This water pipeline in Victoria's wheat belt will be the nation's largest.
It's crucial to saving water normally lost in the old open channels dug into the soil, and today,
it was announced the joint federal and state project will be fast tracked. But underneath the
political joy, tension is still simmering over an even bigger plan the $10 billion federal one for
the Murray Darling Basin.

JOHN THWAITES, VICTORIAN WATER MINISTER: The fact that the Wimmera Mallee pipeline is going ahead
so well shows we don't need a full constitutional handover of all powers to the Commonwealth.

HELEN BROWN: It's the question of Federal Government power that's also on the minds of Victoria's
farmers, who had been moving closer to endorsing the proposal. But that's now unlikely to be any
time soon.

SIMON RAMSAY, VICTORIAN FARMERS FEDERATION: But the draft legislation indicates they want total
referral of power. Now we've already said to Minister Turnbull and the Prime Minister that we
wouldn't support total referral of power so why bother putting it in a draft legislation, that you
will get a reaction from us that is predictable?

HELEN BROWN: And they're annoyed a meeting scheduled for today with Federal officials was
cancelled.

SIMON RAMSAY: Given the cancellation of that meeting, given the draft legislation doesn't reflect
on meetings we've had previously, this whole process is going to be drawn out.

HELEN BROWN: Malcolm Turnbull went on air this morning to explain the meeting was simply
rescheduled.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT & WATER RESOURCES (ABC RADIO AM): Nobody, no farming
group in Australia, has had more attention paid to it than the Victorian farmers. We have met with
them and we've corresponded with them very intensely.

HELEN BROWN: State and federal officials meet tomorrow for another round of talks.

MALCOLM TURNBULL (ENVIRONMENT MINISTER): We're better off just focusing on the detail, working out
where there are differences of opinion, endeavouring to resolve them, and I'm sure we'll be able to
do that. There is too much at stake.

HELEN BROWN: Meanwhile the Victorian Government has another pressing issue Victoria's water
storages are at their lowest levels for decades, just below 30 per cent, and the Labor Government's
been accused of hiding the seriousness of the situation.

TED BAILLIEU, VICTORIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: This is a simple question Speaker, the minister is
debating, will he release the document or not?

SPEAKER: Order. Order. Order. Order.

HELEN BROWN: The Bracks Government rejects the suggestions. Last month it introduced tighter water
restrictions, just one level below the most severe applicable. It says it will also announce a
major water project soon, out of four being considered, including a desalination plant. And there
was some relief today with rain falling in Melbourne and, most importantly, in its water catchment
areas. Helen Brown, Lateline.