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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12804

North Queensland


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (14:19): My question is to the Prime Minister. Given her halving of Murray-Darling agriculture and the nit—I will try that again!

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! When we get to the stage when an independent member cannot even ask a question, it just becomes absurd. The member for Kennedy will be heard in silence.

Mr KATTER: My question is to the Prime Minister. Given the near-halving of Murray-Darling agriculture and the reality of North Queensland having 60 per cent of Australia's water virtually unused, could the PM reaffirm her post-election policy of five North Queensland micro-irrigation projects? Further, Mayor Daniels and I have formed a cooperative. Will her government and Queensland partner this Cloncurry project? Finally, will the Prime Minister reaffirm her support for a major scheme west of Townsville and receive the deputation for this major Pentland-Charters Towers project?




Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:20): I thank the member for Kennedy for his question, and I know how concerned he is about these issues of water use not only in Queensland but also across the nation. He and I have had an opportunity to speak about them in the past, and he is raising them in the parliament today because they are matters of passionate concern for him. I say to the member for Kennedy that I certainly will be pleased to receive a deputation with him and with community members to talk about the Pentland-Charters Towers project that he referred to in his question.

The member for Kennedy and I have, in the past, talked about micro-irrigation projects in North Queensland and I will be pleased to talk about those matters too. I know that they are of concern to him, and I know that he has been working strongly with local government. He referred to Mayor Daniels and referred to the formation of a cooperative and the Cloncurry project. I will be very happy to pursue discussions with the member for Kennedy on those questions too.

To the member for Kennedy: the government is working hard on water reform. We have been speaking today in this parliament—as we did yesterday and the day before—about our delivery on the weekend of a plan for the nation's future. We live in a century of change and growth. We live in a time when Australia is uniquely positioned to seize these opportunities, and so I was pleased and proud to deliver that plan for the nation's future. But immediately before delivering that plan, working with the minister for water, I made an announcement about the Murray-Darling, and I know that the member for Kennedy follows this closely. That announcement is about ensuring that we can get good environmental outcomes in the Murray-Darling.

This basin matters to the whole nation. It matters to the people of South Australia, where I grew up. I know that the member for Kennedy is keenly following this reform agenda and would have followed the announcement we made on Friday. He would know that there is legislation before the parliament dealing with 450 gigalitres being released through infrastructure work. He is also following the delivery of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. So I will be happy to talk through all of these questions with the member for Kennedy. I thank him for his question and for his continued passion for irrigation and water reform.