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Brumby Government fails water projects.

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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Childcare & Shadow Minister for the Status of Women Federal Member for Murray

Thursday 29 April 2010

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Brumby Government fails water projects

The Auditor General has been scathing in his criticism of the Brumby Labor Government in the Audit of Irrigation Efficiency Programs released today.

The projects assessed in the report include the Central Goulburn 1234 Channel Automation, Shepparton Irrigation Area Modernisation, Macalister Channel Automation, Foodbowl Modernisation and the Sugarloaf Pipeline.

Dr Sharman Stone, Federal Member for Murray, said the Auditor Generals Report found that;

Each of the projects were poorly informed, It was unclear if they represented the best solution to saving water, Advice from water savings and cost assumptions had not been verified before the $1 billion was committed,

Technology that had not been proven and the feasibility of the project were not known before the project started, consequently assumed water losses had to be revised down and water savings could not be accurately assessed,

The choice of new channel automation technology was assumed rather than being tested from a number of options, Decision making was not transparent or rigorous, There was no evidence to show that any of the planning for the projects considered

investment options including evaluation, ranking, and any detailing of the actions required achieving the business case; and The government could not use a crisis situation as an excuse for their very poor performance.

“For the three local irrigation projects and the Sugarloaf Pipeline, the Auditor General has said all cases lacked the evidentiary rigour appropriate to the risk and costs of the projects, analysis of costs and benefits for superficial and information to support the basis of water savings assumptions was lacking,” Dr Stone said.


Dr Stone said this is one of the most damning reports ever made by the Victorian Auditor General.

“It shows a government out of control and wanton in their spending of tax-payers money without proper investigation to ensure best value for money and the best outcome for irrigators in Northern Victoria,” Sharman Stone said.

“Unfortunately these are not just projects which affect some share holders in a business that has a range of other options for their survival. In the case of northern Victoria and the State Governments activities and behaviour, these are life and death issues for dozens of small communities across the electorate of Murray.”

“The Government’s bad decisions have ruined some farm enterprises and have driven too many people to sell their water or contemplate throwing in the towel altogether.

“While everyone is in agreement that the irrigation system in northern Victoria needed major capital investment, this investment should have been carefully carried out looking at all the options, looking at best value for money and how to best sustain irrigation into the future.”

“What we have got is hopelessly inadequate planning, poor value for money and a system that now is a patchwork of half completed works and too many bitterly disappointed farm enterprises.

“I have called before for a Royal Commission into the operation for Goulburn Murray Water and NVIRP who were responsible for the shocking lack of professionalism and poor planning and who are now carrying out the works and squandering the $1 billion.

“I once again call most urgently for a royal commission to fully investigate what went wrong and what can now be done to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

“The State Government is chasing a second stage $1 billion from the Federal Government. While I support another $1 billion being spent on improving our irrigation system, it must be spent in a way that is best practice, best value for money and gives us a future,” Sharman Stone said.

Media enquiries: Jo Shannon 0417 148 110