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Budget 2008: Water policy all Wong.

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Media Contact Cath O’Connor (03) 5032 4510 -ends-

The 2008 Budget proves one thing - Water Policy all Wong

Minister Wong has failed to clarify exactly what her priorities for water security in the Murray Darling Basin or the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline are, nor has she confirmed which of the $1.017 billion of pre-election promises contain in “Labor’s National Plan to Tackle the Water Crisis she is planning to break.

According to Minister Wong’s media release the Government has allocated $953.7 million over the next two years to fund irrigation infrastructure projects, John Forrest said

“Yet the Labor Party promised $1017 billion over the first term of Government to be funded from the $5.9 billion Infrastructure component of the $10 billion National Plan for Water Security, which the Government has now rebadged as the Water for the Future program.

“Projects promised by the Labor Party were all about being elected and are not part of a coherent approach to addressing the issues affecting the Murray Darling Basin.

“In fact the government has not even committed enough funding to pay for their promises.

Mr Forrest said “Clearly the Government is either planning to break its promises or the $1.635 billion on-farm efficiency program has been abolished, so too has the $1.5 billion structural adjustment program for communities which will be devastated by the loss of their irrigation industries, also missing is $620 million for metering, monitoring and accounting and $500 million for improving river operations and storage.

“It is time that Minister Wong confirmed that the Labor Party’s Water for the Future Program is going to be a serious plan to address the dire situation in the Murray Darling Basin.”

“The Government has allocated $664.9 million to buy back water entitlements over the next two years, however there is no mention of any targets in terms of how much water the Government expects to purchase, nor is there any mention of exactly where the Government will purchase this water. With zero

allocation such purchases give them no water and this Government don’t seem to get it!

“There is no way the Government can purchase this much water without resorting to compulsorily acquisitions. Surely, sooner or later they will resolve that there are real savings in capital improvement in our obsolete irrigation infrastructure.

Mr Forrest said the Budget makes it clear that the Rudd government has no strategy to deal with the current crisis engulfing communities struggling from the drought in the Murray Darling Basin.

(see for a full list of promises)

John Forrest MP The Nationals Member for Mallee

Phone (03) 5032 4510 Fax (03)

5032 9407