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Mistakes keep flowing from Labor.

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Mistakes keep flowing from Labor

DAFF04/003M 12 January 2004

In a stunning gaffe on the eve of his visit to South Australia, Labor leader Mark Latham has pledged to reduce River Murray flows already committed to by the Australian Government, Conservation Minister and Acting Agriculture Minister Senator Ian Macdonald said today.

According to Adelaide's The Sunday Mail: "In a pitch to South Australian voters, Mr Latham has pledged 450 gigalitres of water to keep the Murray mouth open and an extra $150 million towards water efficiency projects."

Senator Macdonald said Mr Latham's cynical pitch for votes displayed his complete ignorance of the fact that the Coalition had already secured agreement from the states to deliver 500 gigalitres of water to the river as the first step in the 'Living Murray' initiative.

"Mr Latham's ignorance has led him to propose a 50 gigalitre cut to the environmental flows already committed to the River Murray," Senator Macdonald said.

"Labor neglected the Murray-Darling Basin for 13 years when it was in office, while the Coalition has led the way on protecting the environment and caring for the resource base underpinning Australia's most productive food bowl.

"On top of that, the Australian Government is proposing to contribute $200 million toward water efficiencies to deliver the increased environmental flows, $50 million more than Mr Latham has pledged.

"The arrangements we have made for the Murray have been agreed with the relevant South Australian Labor Government Ministers who would all be appalled by the ignorance and confusion demonstrated by the Federal Labor leader.

"At over $4 billion, the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality are collectively the biggest environmental packages ever seen - much of which is spent in the Murray-Darling Basin.

"The Living Murray is engaging directly with River Murray communities to ensure they are fully consulted on the issue of environmental flows and the economic and social impacts of the changes, which will inevitably be involved.

"By contrast, Labor is only interested in pitching for Greens preferences no matter what damage they do to the two million Australians living and working in the Murray-Darling Basin in the process."

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: David Crisafulli (02) 6277 7270 or 0400 144 48