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Country communities on the verge of giving up.



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Mon, 1st September 2008 COUNTRY COMMUNITIES ON THE VERGE OF GIVING UP

The Hon John Cobb MP Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Water Security

The Rudd Government’s water, agricultural and regional development policies are causing so much concern many regional and rural communities are on the verge of quitting.

“The fact that the people of Coleambally are even proposing that the Federal Government buy their community lock, stock and barrel speaks volumes about the lack of faith rural communities have in the Rudd Government, in particular Water Minister, Penny Wong,” Shadow Minister for Water Security and Regional Development, John Cobb said today.

“Rural Australian’s are wide awake to the fact that the Rudd Government doesn’t have a clue about what it is trying to achieve in the Murray Darling Basin.

“The rank hypocrisy of Prime Minister Rudd who on one hand is supporting the Victorian Government’s theft of 110 billion litres of water from the Basin via a pipeline to Melbourne and on the other hand is claiming the basin is ‘over-allocated to hell’ and his government is spending $3.1 billion to buy water to put back into the MDB, is confusing at best.

“People are left wondering exactly what is the Rudd Government trying to achieve in the MDB.

“Minister Wong refuses to speak to journalists, she refuses to visit communities devastated by the lack of water and she is refusing to articulate her Government’s vision for the MDB.

“All the Rudd Government has to show for $50 million of water buy backs is airspace in dams, with the equivalent of just Olympic swimming pools making it back into the Murray River.

Mr Cobb said the Basin Plan was meant to identify the over allocated hotspots and this was where the money needed to be spent, irrespective of which state it was in.

“For the first time in the history of Federation the Basin Plan would provide the blueprint to allow the MDB river systems to be run as a single system not as four State fiefdoms with a Territory chucked in to complicate decision making further.

“The only plan Rudd and Wong have is to appease their State Labor colleagues and have all but allocated the entire $5.8 billion available for infrastructure either to state based projects or to pre-election promises.

“By the Governments own admission it doesn’t know what environmental iconic sites it is trying to save, nor does it know how it will save those sites and has refused to outline how much water it needs to be returned to the river system for this purpose.

“It is little wonder that rural communities are throwing up their hands and are prepared to stop doing what they do best and that is feeding and providing export wealth for the Nation.

Mr Cobb said he was gravely concerned that the Coleambally offer would not be the first as rural communities were sick and tired of being treated like second class citizens by the Rudd Government.

“I strongly believe there is a future in farming and rural communities but it is vital the Rudd Government stops ignoring the legitimate concerns of MDB communities.