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Western NSW braces itself for Rudd-made drought.



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Media Release Mark Coulton Federal Member for Parkes Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Water Resources and Conservation.

Monday 1st June 2009

Western NSW braces itself for Rudd-made drought

Communities throughout Western NSW are bracing for significant job losses following the Rudd Government’s announcement it will ramp up its ailing water buyback plans.

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Water Resources and Conservation Mark Coulton said Water Minister Penny Wong had seriously underestimated the devastation the government’s water buyback policy would wreak on communities throughout the State.

“With 97 per cent of the water buybacks to date coming from regional NSW it is incomprehensible that Senator Wong did not examine the negative effect it would have on communities throughout the State,” he said.

“For example, according to data released today by the Moree and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry at least several hundred direct and indirect jobs will be lost to the Moree region as a result of the water buybacks being undertaken in the Gwydir Valley.

“The consequences of these buybacks would be better understood if the Rudd Government had bothered to undertake even the most basic social and economic analysis before the buybacks commenced.

“However to date Senator Wong has inexplicably spent hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money on purchasing water entitlements without consulting a single community that stands to be devastated by her illogical decisions.”

Mr Coulton has also called on Agriculture Minister Tony Burke to give a commitment that the money allocated to on-farm irrigation infrastructure in this year’s budget will actually be spent.

“The Rudd Government is yet to spend a single cent that was allocated for water irrigation infrastructure in last year’s budget, so there has to be serious question marks over what they intend to do with the $300 million they have allocated this year,” he said.

“The Rudd Government can no longer be taken on trust. After 18 months Australia’s farmers are still waiting for the government to act on their promise to modernise the nation’s water infrastructure.

“As regional Australia spirals towards a permanent Rudd-made drought it is inexcusable that Minister Burke refuses to act on his promise to develop on-farm irrigation infrastructure.”

Media contact: Jeremy Scott (02) 6277 4607/0419 467 546