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(generated from captions) almost 1500 gigalitres a year schemes. Leaving a cut of

Authority acknowledges the cut will have economic and social and infrastructure improvement

impacts on basin communities,

so it is proposing a 7 year so it is proposing a 7 year

phase in period. The plan

now open for 20 weeks of

consultation. I'm joined now

by ABC reporter Conor Duffy who

at the mouths of the Murray

River near Adelaide. We were

hearing from the conservation

foundation a short time ago.

They said that this plan, as it won't is currently outlined, simply

won't produce enough water to Murray-Darling river flush the salt out of the

Murray-Darling river system?

Yes. Good morning. The environmental groups that I've spoken to today have been

hugely critical of this plan.

They've given it

10. You can actually see 10. You can actually see the Murray mouth behind me in the Murray mouth behind me in

shot there. The plan won't guarantee that that will be

environmental groups here open all the time. The

environmental groups here are

saying that it is no plan at all. The cut of 2750

gigalitres a year is far less

than thedz's hoped for. wanted at least 4,000 and some than thedz's hoped for. They

groups had even been groups had even been pushing

be cut. They're unhappy that for 7,000 gigalitres a

there's been big increase in

the amount of groundwater that can be extracted. can be extracted. That's

That's separate to the surface water. separate to the surface

That's mainly used for stock

and mining purposes. There's a

bit of activity there at the

mouth of the river. Just fill mouth of the river. Just

us in on what's happening?

There's going to be a protest here

here today. It is just getting

started here. There are people

setting up. They want to get

the message out loud and clear

they feel this plan has failed SA. The protest organised by the Wilderness

Society and includes some local

farmers and fishermen. Fishermen have been

particularly hard hit on the

Murray because when the mouth

was closed, they couldn't

out and their industry was decimated. They're decimated. They're enjoying

good times and it is quite

striking that we're talking about a conservation failure

when at the moment this country

looks so fantastic because of

the last couple of years. all the historic floodses over

south Australian Premier, if the last couple of years. The

you're able

that helicopter buzzing you,

has foreshadowed High Court has foreshadowed High Court

action in response to this

draft plan. What's he talking

about there and how is that

likely to impact on the

likely to impact on the plans for the Murray-Darling Basin

Authority? I think that

helicopter might be one of the commercial network's commercial network's sabotaging

us. I'm not actually sure what Jay Weatherill's ground are for

that High Court challenge. He

was quizzed at length about that this morning and hasn't given up about what form that will take,

would be after the consultation when that would happen f that

period, or when this was passed

into law. It certainly I think into law.

is a strong statement of intent that South Australia is

particularly unhappy with this

could have big implications plan and politically that,

could have big implications for

Federal MPs. We've heard from

Nationals who say this plan Barnaby Joyce and other

will be the death of rural communities and the coalition policy

there will he and big pressure

on Federal liberals like Christopher Pyne and Simon Birmingham and I imagine Christopher

Labor MPs as well to speak will be pressure on Federal

Labor

Tony Burke. Jay Weatherill has

also been talking about trying

to unify the South Australian

response. You get people like

Nick Xenophon and all the

prominent Federal politicians

on board in pushing the State's

case. We're holding on to cross live to media conferences with the Water Minister, Tony Burke, Abbott is expected to Abbott is expected to talk to

the media shortly. If either

of those occur, we might of those occur, we might have

to leave you and cut to those. While we've got you, I guess it While we've got you, I guess it is

is fair to say in SA there

people are aggrieved there, there's a general feeling that

they feel that Australians

living up river from them

aren't doing their bit to keep

the river a healthy system?

That's right. They've been

their impact since the 70s and

that they in fact only use 7%

of all the water in the entire

system. Obviously, this is a mighty system, the Murray-Darling basin, Murray-Darling basin, it

Queensland stretches all the way from

Queensland down through NSW,

Victoria and the ACT before it

the best of the gets to SA and they feel that

the

before win a confidence water is gone

they're still facing before it gets to them and

they're still facing cutbacks in irrigation larger than what

were proposed in the guide plan. has been furious. Further plan. The response here really

north in NSW, you night have heard earlier, the places heard earlier, the places that have

have been targetrd the of the poor state of river

health there. Last year, of

course, we saw those course, we saw those iconic of

report being burnt. I can images in Griffith of copies of

imagine that imagine that the anger won't

limited to SA and you'll see quite

Victoria quite a big response in NSW and

Victoria and other basin states Victoria and other basin

as well. The problem for the

Authority is that in trying believesry one it ends up pleasing no-one? That's pleasing no-one? That's right.

Some people I've spoken to have said perhaps that means they've

done a good job. You know,

like you said, it is a huge area, it is a million square

kilometre area we're kilometre area we're talking about. When you read the

basin's report, the so-called

plain English report, it is

quite a complicated document

that seems to lack a clear

narrative. It says that

there's no really clear science

on.... We'll have to into you there. I'm very

sorry. Tony Abbott has now

arrived to speak to the in Canberra. in Canberra. We'll cross to that live now. This is a dynamic dynamic Australian manufacturing business that

exports all around the world which is going to find its

commercial life more difficult

because of the carbon tax.

This foundry has an electricity

bill of about $1 million a

year. The carbon tax will add $100,000 a year foundry's bill just like that. foundry's bill just like that.

That's going to make it that

much harder for this foundry to

compete with

in China and Indonesia and

elsewhere. Australian

manufacturing can survive. It

can Sevilla even flourish. But

it might not even survive if it

keeps getting fitted up with additional burdens from the

Government. It is not just

businesses like this which are

going to suffer

carbon tax, but household are

going to suffer, Australian

families are doing it tough

right now, they don't deserve

another hit on their cost of living from this toxic tax. I

say to the Prime say to the Prime Minister, if you're fair dinkum of the

forgotten families of Western

Sydney and the forgotten small

businesses of Western businesses of Western Sydney

you will drop this case. I'm

going to ask Connie to say a

few words and then Peter say a few words and there are couple of issues I want to talk about and we'll go to some questions. Thank you very

much, Tony. As Tony said,

fitting up businesses with additional impost of a carbon

tax will not only affect businesses like a jacks, but in

and around this area of Eade

there are other businesses.

One has to look at the

different small industries in this area that will be

impacted. Of course they will

then be affected and their

viability and their ability to defeat compete on the

international market will international market will be affected. As party was

us earlier, they have compete and competed very well internationally, but internationally, but the carbon

tax will be a big blow to them. For industries such as For

which are not big and do use a lot of electricity, they will

be severely impacted and as a

consequence, the cost of their

products will be impacted and,

therefore, their viability and

competitiveness will be

affected. Peter, do you want to respond? family foundry in Western

Sydney trying hard. We spent Sydney trying hard. We spent a

lot of money in this plant over

the last 15 years to make ourselves more competitive in

the global market. We are basically succeeding with that. This carbon tax will definitely

hurt us. We are very

passionate here, the passionate here, the fathers

and the cousins here, we are

very passionate. Thank you.

Thanks mate. Thank you. On a

couple of other subjects -

obviously, the Government is

releasing the mid year economic

outlook statement. This really

does amount to a crisis mini

budget from a Government which has got itself into all of fiscal trouble because it

can't help wasting money. Yes,

there will no doubt be some

spending cuts of some significance spending cuts of some

significance in this statement.

They would not be so They would not be so necessary but for the fact that this is a

Government which is addicted to

wasteful spending. We learn today that spending National Broadband Network is

going to be $50 billion plus. This is something that the coalition has been expecting

and predicting for quite some

time. The fact is you can't trust this Labor trust this Labor Government with this kind of infrastructure spending without waste and more waste. This is

going to be one of the all time

great white elephants and if

the Government wasn't so set on

this kind of spending, there

wouldn't be the necessity or

the samenessty for the kind of spending cuts we're see in the crisis mini budget

later this week. Also the

Government is carefully core

graphing the national conference next weekend. If

the national conference doesn't

give the Labor Party back to

the people, take it out of the hands of the faceless men, it's

really just a wait of waste of

time. Kevin Rudd has belled

the cat. If the national

conference is just another exercise in stage management,

if it is about as genuine as if it is about as genuine as world champion ship wrestling,

the people will see through

this and they understand whatever the Prime Minister says,

says, the faceless men are still

still in charge. Finally,

we've seen today the release yet another Murray-Darling

basin document. This is a Government which has been sitting on

sitting on its hands for four years. The Howard Government sitting on

Robert Allenby located $6

billion for water saving infrastructure. Less than $300 million of that money been spent. We wouldn't have the kind of problems we do if this this had been a government that

actually got things done.

doesn't. This latest report basically raises more questions than

than it answers. With regards

to the Murray-Darling to the Murray-Darling - We've just leaving that press conference there with Tony

Abbott. No, we do have the Abbott. No, we do have the

feedback again. We'll listen

in again. The problem is

there's no certainty in this

report. Basically, what this

report shows is that for many, many years to come, there will

be this Paul of be this Paul of uncertainty

hanging over the Murray-Darling

basin. That means bases won't

know what water supplies

they'll have. Farmers won't

know what their future

allocations will be. With this

kind of uncertainty, we have

little investment, we have

little reassurance for the

residents. This is just residents. This is just more bad news from a Government

which has shown no real

commitment to regional Australia. What's alternative? The alternative was the plan that the Howard

Government put in place. The

plan that, as I said a moment ago, allocated $6 ago, allocated $6 billion almost for water saving

infrastructure, allocated over $3 billion for strategic intelligent buy-backs that didn't leave irrigators in the

lurch. That's what should have been done and this Government has comprehensively has comprehensively miss handled the whole do you think the proposal to

offer (inaudible) They've got to be the right incentives to

the right young people. You've got to worry with this

government that everything they

touch seems to turn bad. They've got the Midas Touch in

reverse. They've proved it

time and time again. I fear

this latest measure will go the

way of all of Labor's other

measures. Not a bad idea principle, but terribly badly executed in practice. You can

clarify what you mean by the

right kids? It is important

that some kids stay at that some kids stay at school and go on to university. also important that other kids

get a good technical

education. Does the program

offer that in regards to offering things like TAFE

courses (inaudible) mechanics

and (inaudible) That's

assuming that all schools have the capacity the capacity to run school based apprenticeships. I based apprenticeships. I would be very far from cover confidence, particularly under this government that that's the

case. Wayne Swan says he's still determined to produce a surplus next year. Given the

figures we saw today $7 billion

from the European crisis has

been ripped from government

revenue, is it possible? This

is a Government that's always

blaming someone else. It is

not Europe's fault

Swan has a problem. It is his and Julia Gillard's fault because they haven't been

government wasn't spending so

much on things like the National Broadband Network we wouldn't be in this

predicament. It's typical of

this government that they this government

for their own mistakes. Thank

you. Just one more question. When will Rachel Siewert the

coalition idea for budget cuts?

In good time before the next

election. You'll have a comprehensive fiscal statement.

It will outline all of our

savings, all of and you'll have it in good and you'll have it in good time before the next election. We'll leave that media conference there

conference there with the Opposition leader Tony Opposition leader Tony Abbott who was the Sydney suburb of

Silverwater. Among the he Silverwater. Among the topics

he spoke about he commented on

the release of the draft plan of the Murray-Darling basin Authority. He said that it creates uncertainty, will cause there to be little or no

investment in areas affected in

the Murray-Darling basin, and communities in that area.

While we were listening to the

Opposition leader, the Federal Water Minister Tony Burke was

also holding a news conference.

We'll have a listen to that now. Thank you very much. Today, as you're all wear, the

Murray-Darling Basin Authority

has released its draft plan. That means as of today That means as of today we're now in the formal statutory

process. We'll have 20 weeks consultation.

expanded from the statutory

period making sure that we cover over for that Christmas break

break as well. After that,

next year we'll go through a

final formal process and then we'll have a document that lays

on the table here in the

Federal Parliament. Up until

now, it has been possible for

members of Parliament to simply

talkback and forth and argue

about the process, but

ultimately, from both sides of

politics, we need to own politics, we need to own an out

come that's failed every previous

previous generation of politics, generations now we have allowed

the Murray-Darling basin to be

governed as though rivers would

respect state boundaries. respect state boundaries. That

ends today. What we have to do

now is make sure that we now is make sure that we deal

with the basin as a whole, that

we restore its system to we restore its system to health

that, we make sure that we do

have a sustainable river system

that's then able to that's then able to support food production, that's able to support the basin . Environmentalists . Environmentalists say they

were hoping for 7,000 gigalitres of water to be

returned to the system.

They're saying this proposal

isn't scientificly fact. Is

your response to the comments?

A few things on those claims

that. Would mean roughly

halving the draw down of water that happens throughout the

basin. Let's not pretend that

that's a modest claim that.

Would be an extraordinarily ambitious ambitious claim. Secondly,

though, once you get much beyond 3000 gigalitres of water

you actually can't legally manage

manage it. The reason for that

is if you do have capacity constraints throughout constraints throughout the system, at the the heart of this reform, what this reform, what we're talking

about doing is reserving an

amount of water for

environmental flows. Those

environmental flows around just a gradual trickle down the

river they're flooding events

of environmental sites. Once

you get beyond about the 3000

gigalitre figure you start to

enter a situation where to hold

flooding events in those sorts

of volumes flooding private property, you

have challenges in actually dis

distributing the water distributing the water because

of channel capacity in those sort of volumes sort of volumes to environmental sites.

will be some things in environmental world you would be be able to say this be able to say this would make

perfect sense as a perfect sense as a landing

place, but you do have capacity constraints throughout

constraints throughout the system and that's one of the

reasons why the authority have

ended up with the numbers that

they have. The plan has been

criticised for a lack of detail the lack of detail and the

environmental watering plan. Are you satisfied it is a robust and detailed document?

Yes, I am. If I can talk

about each of those two areas.

First of all, the detail that's

been criticised on the been

the shared flows across the

system is because the Authority have targeted the different

restraints on water to the environmental environmental outcomes they're

trying to achieve. Within each

catchment there's an amount of water that needs to be dedicated dedicated to the assets within the catchment. Then you also have some needs

for the end of system flow to

make sure that you're flushing

salt out through the end of the

system. For those amounts they have something shared across

the catchments. That means the numbers that they're talking about precisely match the

outcomes that they're seeking.

The second half of your

question deals with the use of

environmental water and in particular, the environmental

watering plan. One of the

things that the Authority has

stressed is the best way to utilise

will involve a level of local

knowledge and localism. The people who would like us to have a completely defined environmental watering plan environmental watering plan are

saying that effectively would like the National

Government to have no localism

at all because that's what you

do if you have a highly

prescriptive environmental watering plan. From what I've seen at the moment, the Murray-Darling Authority has

got the balance on that right

between what you want to between what you want to have in terms of national

to do through local engagement. All of that will be thrashed

out as well during the course All of out as well during the course

of the consultation period of the consultation period we now enter. This plan in its

current form or the draft has

the capacity to deliver a

triple bottomline outcome where

rural communities won't be

devastated. I do, Colin. I

do. What we have with what's

in front of us at the moment, in environmental in environmental terms, deals with the key environmental outcomes

outcomes that need to be

achieved. It does make

in front

that you've got the Murray mouth open nine years out of 10 and that has not only an

environmental outcome, but also

has an important outcome for

irrigation in being able to

flush the salt out through flush the salt out through the

system. You also have a staged

process for communities between

now and 20 19. Some people

have said nothing happens until 20

20 19. That's plain wrong. We're already on the numbers

released today 45% of the way

there. Between now and 20 19 each year through a combination

of infrastructure improvements

and through the purchase of

water, we're able to steadily manage communities through manage communities through the transition and there is no

better time than now to do

that. For two simple reasons best time to have a transition for communities is when there's a lot of water in the system, that's certainly true at the

moment, and secondly, jobs market within Australia is

the best time to manage this sort of transition as sort of transition as well.

(Inaudible). Legal challenge

in terms of the justification of the Act? Everything that

Authority have done as far as I

can tell is completely consistent with the

requirements of the Water Act.

It matches the advice that I tabled in the parmentd last

Parliament last year and they

have the Water Act, they have

then built a plan then built a plan precisely

matching within that. There's

still a period of consultation

to work that through, but the legal requirements of the Water

Act have been met. Are you telling Jay Weatherill not to

do it? Certainly, if the

benchmark is 4,000 benchmark is 4,000 gigalitres

from all the advice that I've

received, we have capacity constraints in the system constraints in the system that regardless of the legal

outcomes we would not be able

to manage 4,000 gigalitres. I

don't think anyone would view it as a sensible use it as a sensible use of

taxpayers' money to be purchasing water for environmental flows that you

then can't use. Certainly,

every State Premier will have a

different interest in this and

they'll use the consultation period to they should do. That's the

right thing to do. Out of all

of this we have to end up with

a situation where we have a national approach to the basin and I have to say of all the states

states SA probably have the most stake in that in having a national outcome. national outcome. Could I give

in terms of a spes tick SA outcome. I've is spooen outcome. I've is spooen spoken

about nine years out of 10 for

the mouth of the Murray to be

open and you referred to wethd Jay Weatherill area call 4,000 gixths the figures

released today would have the

mouth of the Murray open 89% of

the time over 100 years. The

4,000 gigalitres figure would have the mouth of the Murray

open just over 92% of the time

over the course of 100 years.

In terms of environmental

outcomes for SA, the significant outcomes that they

would seek to have achieved are

achieved in what's been abled today. Victoria says that they're disproportionately

affected by this. What do you

say to that and also do say to that and also do you think think some States will have to

be affected in different ways on

on this and it is just the nature of this plan? Every

State will be able to come up

with a reason why they are

affected differently to every other state and they'll all be

correct in arguing that. correct in arguing that. One

of the things that is true of Victoria at the moment,

Victoria have more than any other State been able to

other State been able to come

up with the most effective infrastructure projects to

provide wins for efficiency and

wins for the recovery of

environmental water. environmental water. Other States will complain about how

in the use of infrastructure

money. There will be arguments

up and down the basin. That's

why we've gone

without having sensible reform

and getting this right. and getting this right. Every State will have a valid

argument as to why they're

different. Every catchment

will have a valid argument as

to why they're different. That

can no longer be used as a way

to avoid reform. The

Opposition says it is going to destroy farming communities and

will lead to higher food prices because because food would have to because food would have to be

to that? I must say I disagree

with the premise of your

question. Your premise says the

the Opposition says and then

you followed it on with a

single statement. That's not

Opposition has been saying on

the Murray-Darling basin. What you've

you've just said is reflective

of what Barnaby Joyce says when he

he talks to irrigation communities and throughout the

north of the basin. It is not necessarily

necessarily anything to do with

what Simon Birmingham or Jamie

Briggs say when they're media talking about the SA outcomes.

outcomes. We often argue

about Tony Abbott having no policies. policies. That's not policies. That's not the

problem with this one. The

problem is they have both

policies and they're contradictory. That contradictory. That cannot keep happening. I think the

time is up now for the

coalition. They can't argue one thing in SA and something completely different throughout irrigation communities. What

they need to acknowledge now is

they are either in favour of

reform or they're against

reform. They'll have to vote

on that next year. Could this

plan drive up the cost of food prices? There's an prices? There's an argument about food production in about food production in the

basin we I think we need to

take a breath on. In the order of

of N inaudible) throughout the basis, it is it is about that benchmark,

goes to industries like cotton

or industries like the growth

of grapes for the purpose of

wine. These are not products

which are going to be

responsible for easing hunger

throughout the world. Don't

have a problem with these crops

being grown. My view is that sustainable amount of water

that they're able to acquire

and with their entitlement they

should then decides what's the

most profitable thing to do on their land. We should their land. We should not pre-dent that pre-dent that the Murray-Darling basin is

entirely about food. It is not

purely for those purposes. purely for those purposes. For

everything beyond the food

issue everywhere where we have a water saving where it is

someone selling part of their entitlement, that's because they've found further sish they no longer they no longer require. Whenever we have infrastructure

improvements that has no

negative impact on food production.

production. Often with the Victorian projects food

production ends production ends up becoming

more efficient than ever, but

we get a return of water to we get a return of water to the

environment. There's a whole

lot of extreme arguments that

have been put so far. Today

will be no different. We do

need to just take a breath on some of some of the claims that are

being made about food. On the

sews economics, the plan says

there will be flow gone effect communities

can't quantify the scale of those effects it will it is

determined whether determined whether water will

be returned by buy-backs and frulgier and where those returns will be given.

all of that how will be this plan will deliver a triple

bottomline if we don't know what socio-economic toll we're

looking at? The greatest thing the communities have to be able

to transition this reform

through is that it is staged

between now and 20 19. That creating an opportunity not only for communities that are there about efficiencies and strengthening

basin communities, it basin communities, it also

means growers will do what

they've always done and

they've always done and find more efficient ways of more efficient ways of growing

their produce year after year.

And environmentally, because we've been fortunate with the

recent rains, a staged process

between now and 20 19 between now and 20 19 doesn't carry negative environmental

consequences either. I'm consequences either. I'm very confident that the time frame

provides communities need. Up until

now, we have had difficulty

unlocking and getting out the infrastructure money. infrastructure money. There's a number of projects, for

example, like Menindee lakes

where the Wales Government unilaterally

terminated the offer we had for

that money to go ahead and $400 million attached to those

projects. We're renegotiating

with NSW to try to get those

projects going again. The infrastructure dollars are starting to flow now. That provides a real opportunity for communities. The meetings that will be held over the

the next little while, will you

be attending any of them to defend the plan? My purpose

for consultation isn't defence.

My purpose for consultation to be able to make sure I'm

hearing the different views so

we're able to factor that in

for a document which I have to

personally sign off on

ultimately. There will be a number of number of community meetings,

some of them willing be official Murray-Darling ones

for the authority. Some of

them will be ones organised by

communities. I will communities. I will be attending every can as much as dietary can as much as dietary allows. As you may be aware, I committed to one that was a

public meeting, I was invited to, in Griffith that held tomorrow. They've now

changed date of that for a

couple of weeks later. But whenever I'll still be in

Griffith but the public meeting

I originally accepted is not

going ahead. There will be another community meeting I'm

tend ing in Shepparton. tend ing in Shepparton. My

intention is to be at as many community meetings I'm There will be some held at time

I can't make t but whenever I can be there I will be. Is

there a way to deliver this

plan without any job losses? . There's no way of delivering

Murray-Darling reform through

business as usual. You can't

do that. We do have a do that. We do have a problem

of over-allocation and what

that means is we need to end up

with a situation where there's

more water reserved for

environmental uses for the

health of the basin than there

has been in the past. That does

mean that communities, many situation where between now situation where between now and

20 19 the total volume of entitlements thanks for productive purposes within their their area will be lower. From the perspective of any

individual irrigator, though,

let's not forget, if an

irrigator doesn't want to part with any

with any of their water, then

we have no interest in taking

it from them. We only buy from

people who have chosen to put

their water on the market. If an

an irrigator doesn't want to

sell, we don't want to buy.

Given we're not catchment by catchment

reductions, we're looking at shared reductions across mainly

the southern basin, and it will

operate as a operate as a market mechanism,

do you have any plans to introduce additional

compensation for, say, small

towns using towns using water inefficiently at the moment that might be

hardest hit by this sort of

market mechanism? One of the

things I've been wanting to do

is to find new ways of

unlocking the infrastructure

money. Part of the problem and

part of the frustration in

money that took so long to get

out the door was the fact that it had to be a partnership

between us and the States and, therefore, you had too therefore, you had too many people with their people with their fingerprints

on the same project and you

ended up with arguments going

back and forth about the best

way to spend money and for years no money got spent. My

approach is to provide a much higher degree of flexibility

for the States in how they

spend that infrastructure

and that then means that for

individual projects, for

targeting where targeting where the

infrastructure will go, they

have a much higher degree have a much higher degree of discretion for that

a direct arrangements that I've

made as a standing offer to the

States as to how much water would then be returned to would then be returned to the environment as a result environment as a result of

those dollars. The sorts of projects you're referring to

may well be projects that go ahead, but I very much have

taken the hands off in order to

get the money out the door to

give the States

of discretion to pick exactly where they want that money

targeted. When will that

infrastructure money start to flow? flow? In terms of the northern Victoria infrastructure

projects, a announced that a couple

couple of months ago. That's

in the order of $1.2 billion.

That money is off and running

now. There are NSW projects

inthe old system where they are

very much ready for approval

and NSW and the Commonwealth

are very close to being able to

the remaining moneys, if people

don't want to continue don't want to continue to work through the through the old agreement between the Commonwealth between the Commonwealth and

the States, and want to use the

outcomes based model that I described, the money is available immediately. It is a matter for the States if they

want to target particular projects, so long as they're willing to meet the outcomes

model where they determine the

water projects they want to

spend on and there's a set amount of water that's returned to the environment to make sure

that we're bridging the gap,

then that offer is available and available now. Are the

States going to have responsibility for infrastructure projects as infrastructure projects as well as developing environmental

watering plans. Aren't watering plans. Aren't you effectively giving power effectively giving

to the states the power that

was seized by John Howard in

2007 to make this a national

Murray-Darling basin? In terms

of the infrastructure projects,

I have without a doubt given the

the States a higher degree of

flexibility in how that money

is spent. That was after years is

of the money not being spent at

all which I viewed as a bad

infrastructure money, yes,

that's certainly true. On the Commonwealth that's certainly watering plan I don't accept

the premise of the plan. The

Water Act itself is quite specific, that the States specific, that the States are

to come up with environmental

watering plans once we've

established the high-level

principles of one. The States

then come up with their detailed water resource plans.

They have to do so in a way that meets my satisfaction that meets my satisfaction and

if they're not able to do so so

and don't come up with

of water, there are step in powers for the Murray-Darling

Authority at the end of that.

I don't expect we'll get to

those step in powers. We'll

end up with a situation than that, I situation than that, I think,

but certainly the Act presumes

the first call will be reserve

we put down some high-level

Prince, the States put forward

their water resource plans

unthan by doing that you unthan by doing that you get the opportunity for the high degree of localism I spoke

about. On the question of constrains, you said anything

much above much above 3000 would bump again - the authority model

3200 and floated up to 4,000.

Was that never realistic? You

need to do two

need to ask the question if you

could manage to, what extent would you get ideal environmental outcomes. environmental outcomes. The constraint are things

you've got the Barmah choke,

you've got a number of channels

where there are limits to how

quickly water can be put

through it and the volumes that

can be put through individual

channels when you try to reach

environmental sites. You places where if you increase

the flooding event for an

environmental asset, then you can inadvertently be flooding

bridges or private property on the way through. the way through. For a lost

thesis tem constraints, some

people will argue the quite valid environmental valid environmental argument, why don't you spend some

why don't you spend some your infrastructure and remove the restraints. For example, you

buy an easement over one

private property and

immediately before you immediately before you get to the next

well. These constraints are real.

real. They depend in part on

how you deal with the environmental events.

Certainly, could you use 7,600 by simply

by simply having the river

system flow a centimetre lie

higher than it currently system

you could do that but you wouldn't get a positive

environmental out come out of

it. The system constraint are real but Authority did the right thing separate from the systems con

strantd argument if you could

manage it environmentally what real would be the outcomes. On the

infrastructure issue again,

could the amount of money that

putting up or the cost arrangements with States be

altered to get those States altered to get those States on board and happy with board and happy with the reductions in the cuts they've

got to make? You're saying the

share between the States? share between the States? . The cost sharing The cost sharing arrangements between the Federal between the Federal Government apt state and the infrastructure in particular,

could that arrangement, bear more of the costs, the states

bear less, for those bear less, for those states

particularly unhappy with the

cuts? Effectively on the cost

sharing arrangements, I have unlock ed that through the

outcomes based proposal. It

says that you have a says that you have a ratio between the value of the

infrastructure project and how

much water would have to be

returned to the system and then

they have full discretion as to

how they spend it. If they

have a project which returns

more water to the have

than that, then that's a matter for for them. If they have a project which returns for water to the environment than

that, then they can provide the

water to the market. It gives

them that high degree of flexibility and

the right way to do it. the right way to do it. We

couldn't go on with the situation

situation where the buy-back

money was easy to get out the

door but the infrastructure

money was part of endless

delay. When will that delay. When will that start

and are you confident it going

to provide some savings when it

finally all comes down? concept of reviewing river

rules and some of these principles are among the

capacity constraints that referred to, rules about how

quickly you're allowed to flows out of

and things like that, for those rules, the review will be under

way and I'll leave it for others others from the Authority to

give you the precise time lines

on starting and conclusion of those sorts of things, but all

the modelling that's been done does say there are does say there are substantial

gains towards bridging the gap that can be unlocking some of those rules. I've seen a broad enough area of variation about just how far

it would go on bridging the gap

that I'm not going to commit an individual figure in advance

of that review taking place. Are you confident all of the

recommendations come out of

Tony Windsor's committee being

catered for in this draft? Look, there are a number of recommendations that went

Government and we've provided

our response there. The

Authority also has made very specific undertakings in

response to that inquiry. very confident that all of those being followed up. Thank you. . Tony Canberra there. He's been

talking about the goals of the draft plan released today. It

is worth noting the main

environmental AIMS outlined by

the plan are to restore health

to rivers, wetlands, trees and wildlife in the Murray-Darling

by greater flushing and simulated moderate floods to

open the Murray River mouth to the sea nine years the sea nine years out 10, to improve drinking water quality

and reduce Saleh thin knit, to make the require environment,

especially its River Red Gums resilient enough to resilient enough to survive

sever veer drought. For sever veer drought. For more on the reaction to the on the reaction to the draft

report, I'm joined by our political editor Lyndal Curtis.

Is the political response as it

was expected? The political response, gathering pace. The Opposition

so far has been somewhat critical of the plan and I've

been joined by one of the Opposition's spokesmen Simon

Birmingham. Welcome Birmingham. Welcome to News

24. Good. Does this meet the

triple bottomline of the economic, social and

environmental impacts? The

jury really is still out on

this plan. It has been described by some commentators

as the Clayton's plan, the plan

you have when you don't really

have a plan and that's because

it doesn't outline any any

sense of detail exactly how sense of detail exactly how the

environmental water recovered will be used, nor exactly from

which communities water will be

recovered. You would prefer a

plan that specified from all

the small bits from each different community rather than

having some bits spelt out having some bits spelt out and

what's called a shared

reduction that will be spread

across either the northern or southern base southern base since? This so-called shared reduction is

more than 1100 gigalitres of

the as yet unrecovered water.

It is a vast amount. A huge proportion of

proportion of the water that's still to be taken communities. The Water Act was

passed more than four years ago. The Labor Government ago. The Labor Government was elected more than elected more than four years

ago. The guide to this plan

was released more than 12

months ago. Surely we should

have reached the stage have reached the stage where we have some tangible environmental outcomes that are clearly clearly spelt out for the use

of the water and should have

some clear-cut targets for what

ir gaition gation communities

are up for and how are up for and how they're

going to be assisted through

that process. Isn't some of that assistance clear when the

Minister talks about helping who want to sell it, helping

reduce the need for those buy-backs by buy-backs by using infrastructure money, infrastructure money, all those

sorts of things, and isn't

their help also that communities have been given 7 years

years to phase this in? The

longer phase in given the

system is in a decent state of health following the floods of

last year, is not a bad step forward. forward. In terms of the

spending of funds, we've seen a

real dragging of the heels and

a miss prioritisation of those

they've spent more than

budgeted every year on water buy-backs despite having no plans against which to do those

buy-backs and less than budgeted every year on delivering delivering water saving infrastructure projects. I welcome the fact that Tony

Burke is now talking about

giving prioritisation to

infrastructure projects, but

Government should have been

doing that all along. You've

been critical that there's not

enough specifics in this plan

of where water should of where water should come from. Doesn't giving a shared

limit or a nor global each region give the chance for strategic

strategic where the water can

come from if an area can save

more water can come there rather than prescriptive What we have at

present is a minimum contribution from centres or from regions, but there appears from

to be no maximum contribution.

For those in the South Australian Murray in my home

State, they know they've got to

give up at least 101 give up at least 101 gigalitres

of water but that 100 gigalitres could turn into 3200

or 300 or 400. Who knows. It that there's no cap in place. The same could be said for The same could be said for the Goulburn or the Murrumbidgee in

Victoria or NSW. The lack of

certainty, the lack of knowledge that at

a maximum benchmark there is

what really concerns people what really concerns people in irrigation communities through the the country. Could you

talk about your home state of

South Australia. Does South Australia. Does this

plan do enough to help South Australia which at the end of

the Murray-Darling basin. The Murray mouth will open in 89 good step forward. What the

plan fails to tell us is how

much extra water and

environmental flows goes across

the SA border. How much of that that water reaches the lower

lakes. How much of that will flow into the Coorong or

out the Murray mouth. The real

lack of data and environmental

analysis underpinning this plan

is just as criminal as the is just as criminal as the lack

of clear-cut targets for irrigation

irrigation communities. Would

you think, it as I say, ah you think, it as I say, ah more

than four years we might be than four years we might be a lot further down the track lot further down the track in

terms of certainties than this Weatherill says the Weatherill says the science suggests there needs to suggests there needs to be 3,500 to 4,000 gigalitres returned to the river and returned to the river and the burden after justment might

a way it simply shouldn't. Do

you agree with that? I'm a

realist in this process.

Nobody is going to get

everything they want. There's

probably no way to make

everybody happy. That means

that we need to of course accept there will be compromise

as long the way. as long the way. I'm not going to argue 2,750 should be 3,500

because I'm not a scientist. can't give that expertise. It

needs to be a balance between the environmental and

scientific arguments and the

economic and social arguments.

What I do want to look at what the outcomes are, what the outcomes are, what actually does it deliver and telling us we get 89 in 100

years open from the years open from the mouth, that's good, but that's just one outcome out of what should

be many, many far more detailed outcomes. Premier Jay

Weatherill has flagged the

possibility of a High Court

challenge. Craig Knowles

out. That's a message that out. That's a message that was come from the independent Tony

Windsor as well. Is Windsor as well. Is the process better if the

Commonwealth and the States can

work through this process without resorting to challenges or ultimatums? The process is

much, much better we can avoid court action. I think Jay

Weatherill has been really

quite reckless in his approach to

to date. He has been

threatening now almost from day

one of his term as Premier to

go off to the High Court and

what's it done? parochialism has seen the NSW

and Victoria governments and Victoria governments musing about totally withdrawing from

the process. We've had as a

country 120 years of fighting

about Murray-Darling reform. I

think it is time we did have a

it was the last great reform of

the Howard Government to say

we're going to go down we're going to go down this

pathway. It is one unfortunately that has unfortunately that has been bungled and botched to date,

but we need to work to get it

back on track. That requires

the states to actually work

with the Commonwealth and work

together for outcomes that give

us healthy rivers as well as sustainable communities. Would communities, particularly those

which are named in the plan as being particularly vulnerable sustainable to the impact of this plan, to

have a look at the plan, be

part of the process, rather than doing,

time, copies of the guide then

being burned? I think

everybody needs to obviously have

have their say. This have

a draft plan. There's 20 weeks

of public consultation and many more weeks of consultation

between the states and the

Commonwealth that follow that.

We won't see a final plan until the second half of next the second half of next year at the earliest. who look like being hit, I would urge them to make sure they get the Water they get the Water Minister, get the Prime Minister out

there, to sit down and talk to them and let's look can make sure that can make sure that adjustment is there for them, is there for them, that they

get the dollars on the table to

make sure the water is

recovered in a way that keeps

farmers on the land, keeps food production happening, doesn't

see house prices crash or communities of course shut up.

They're the things we want to

avoid. Unfortunately, to avoid. Unfortunately, to date, we've spent arguing about the numbers to be

delivered, not enough time

looking at how they will be

delivered and how it will be

implemented in the smartest possible ways. Simon

Birmingham thank you very much for

for your time. Always a pleasure, Lyndal. . Proposed

cuts to the irrigation across

the Murray-Darling basin have

drawn a negative response from

farmers and conservations.

latest draft plan proposes a

cut of 2,750 gigalitres cut of 2,750 gigalitres across the basin.

was proposed last year, but it

is still being criticised by

farming groups who say it will

reduce food production.

Conservations say the plan

doesn't provide enough water

protect the lower part of the

Murray. The town of Moree Murray. The town of Moree in north-western NSW has been

divide bid floodwaters with about 300 properties isolated. Dozens of homes were Dozens of homes were evacuated last night as the Meehi River

peaked. The SES rescued three

men overnight as they tried to drive through Gunnedah. The Arab League men overnight

voted to impose economic

sanctions against Syria in an

attempt to force the Government

to stop its suppression of

Opposition protests. The

measures include measures include a freeze on

all commercial and financial dealings with Syria's

Government and banks. 36

people are reported to have

been killed in Syria in recent days as anti-government

protests continue. The head of

Egypt's ruling military council has warned of extremely grave

consequences if the country

doesn't overcome its current

crisis. The comments hours before polls opened in the nation's first vote since the

the ousting of former President

Hosni Mubarak in February. The parliamentary elections are

spread out over four months.

More on the draft plan to save the Murray-Darling river system

later. Let's check some of the

day's other stories now. 60

people in the north-west of NSW

have been evacuated overnight as floodwaters continue to

rise. In the town of Moree

around 300 properties have cut off by the floodwaters. Further

Further south, it is a similar story in Gunnedah Waa. About 2000 people have

been stranded for up to a week

and the deluge has claimed the

life of a three-year-old boy

who was swept into a drain. Meanwhile, in Wagga police divers are resuming the

search this morning for a 7-year-old boy missing 7-year-old boy missing feared drowned in the Murrumbidgee Meanwhile,

River. For an update on the flood situation I spoke to

David Rae from the State David Rae Emergency Service headquarters

in Wollongong. The focus for

the SES has been the townships of Moree and Gunnedah and further south at Wee Waa. than 1800 residents affected further

Wee Waa and between Moree and Gunnedah

Gunnedah some 200 properties

affected by those rising

floodwaters. How many people

have been evacuated as of have been evacuated as of now

and is that number still and is that number still likely to rise? At Moree to rise? At Moree current

evacuation orders are in place

from last night. There were 30

properties affected with some

elderly residents, mostly elderly residents, mostly re

locating to family and locating to family and friends. However, 62 people have in evacuation centre in the town

hall of Moree. We don't expect further evacuations at this

stage. However, those

floodwaters can remain in the

area for up to 8 to 10 days there's more rain predict in

the middle of this week.

be keeping a very close watching brief and liaising

with the bureau on those

weather conditions. A lot of

people have been isolated, a you mentioned. What's been

done to assist those people?

The SES transitions today into

will concern themselves with critical medications, food supplies

supplies and we do have some

aviation resources in locations

throughout the State to assist with those with those tasks. What's the weather doing? weather doing? You mentioned there there is more rain

expected? We do understand another trough could form by

Wednesday or Thursday this week with predictions of up to 50mm

of rain. In that event, these

catchments are wet. We could see some more probably not exceeding the

peaks that have happened thus

far. Certainly, it's a timely

warning for people who stay

clear of floodwaters and not to drive, ride or walk through those floodwaters. Turning

overseas, Egypt's army chief has warned protesters not to -

overseas,

elections that are about to get

underway there. El he's warned there will

underway there.

consequences if the country

doesn't overcome its crisis.

Thousands of people are continuing their protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square demanding

an immediate end to military

rule. 32 people have died and

more than 3000 have been injured in a week of violence.

The Arab League has approved unprecedent ed sanctions again

Syria. They include a travel

ban on top Syrian officials, a

freeze on Syrian government

asset and a ban on investments

in the country. 19 of in the country. 19 of the league's 22 members voted in favour of the sanctions. It is the latest move by is the latest move by the Arab

League to try to stop the

crackdown on protesters. Elysse Morgan joins us with an

update from the markets.

Australian shares have Australian shares have bounced

back from their worst week in two months on reports Italy may

get a bailout. Record high US

retail sales figures have also

helped push the ASX 200 up 2%.

Those retail figures didn't

come out early enough to stop

US markets sliding on Friday. They ended the worst Thanksgiving week since To commodities, the gold price

is on the way up while the

Australian dollar is up against

the greenback after last week's decline it is buying around 98 US cents. Qantas has warned

investors it may see a 66% fall in half year pre-tax profit.

The airline expects to make 140

to $1 90 million before tax for the

the half year. That's down

significantly on the $417 million pre-tax profit it made

the same time a year ago. Union Union action against the

airline and the grounding of

its entire fleet has gouged $200 million from the bottomline. And mining $200 bottomline. And mining giant Rio Tinto says demand for

resources has weakened because

of Europe's debt woes and

economic weakness in the US. Tom Albanese has said despite

the problems Rio Tinto the selling everything it selling everything it can

produce. He added there's

concern a continued softening

of commodity prices may affect

the company. . Australian driver Mark Webber has season ending Brazilian Grand

Prix in Sao Paolo. Webber

started on the front row of the

grid just behind teammate and

world champion Sebastian Vettel. Gearbox problems

forced the German to settle for

second as he let Webber past on

lap 30. The Australian second his first and only win of the

season ahead of Vettel with Britt gone Jenson Button in

third. Webber ends the year in third place pont third place pont driving

standings well be