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Minister Wong still wrong on water buy back.



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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Federal Member for Murray Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage, the Arts and Indigenous Affairs

M E D I A R E L E A S E

Thursday 17th April 2008

Minister Wong Still Wrong On Water Buy Back!

“Fears that Federal Water Minister, Penny Wong’s $50 million water buy back scheme will attract buyers from areas already decimated by drought and water shortage is proving to be well founded. It is reported that Goulburn Murray System irrigators have been trying to sell water as a part of this $50 million water buy-back, and that their offers are being rejected for being too high,” Federal

Member for Murray, and Shadow Minister for the Environment, Dr Sharman Stone said.

“The Coalition recognised the potential for distorting water prices when a big buyer enters the market with very deep pockets. It can destroy the agri-business industries that depend on efficient irrigation systems.”

“Minister Wong should have focused on buying back over allocated water for the environment, instead of praying on areas where the buy-back has the potential to cripple irrigation districts.”

“The Water Minister should also be investing money into on farm water savings, so saved water can be returned to the environment. This becomes a win, win scenario, with improved water quality and better food production security.”

“The Federal Government is causing irrigators even more uncertainty by refusing to disclose the price they will receive for their water. Minister Wong should conduct the buy-back only on over allocated streams and in an open exchange, instead of by closed tender, that way irrigators would know where they stand in the market.”

“The outlook is already looking particularly bleak for Murray Irrigators with just 43 percent allocation for the Murray, 57 percent for the Goulburn System, and just 5 percent for the Loddon system. Next season looks like a zero allocation at the start, as well.”

“The Federal Water Minister needs to urgently review her $50 million dabble in the open water market, and instead focus on buying back water from over-allocated areas. She should understand the need for a sustainable and efficient irrigation industry, instead of destroying the national food production capacity of the Murray-Darling Basin,” Dr Stone said.

Further Media Enquiries: Dr Sharman Stone’s Office - Inga Norgrove 0417 148 110