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Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Page: 9144

Mr ZAPPIA (10:40 AM) —At the time that I was interrupted last night while speaking on the Water Amendment Bill 2008, I was referring to the water buyback and reallocation program that is currently underway. I make this point: under the present arrangements, we have reached a point where water rights have become more valuable than the property itself. Having said that, the present water price is insufficient as fair compensation for those who wish to exit the industry. There are too many expert commentators, too many opinions and too much politics being played when it comes to the Murray River and Australia’s water supplies. As with the financial woes of the world, securing our long-term water supplies is a matter of national security and should be a politically bipartisan issue. The Murray-Darling Basin, because of its national importance, needs to be managed by a single authority. It should have been done a hundred years ago. That is why this bill is so important. It is time that the states put their parochialism aside, that communities along the Murray-Darling system work together and that individual politicians stop putting their political interests ahead of the national interest. There has been too much of that occurring for far too long and our time has now run out. It is time to act, and any delay of this bill should be and will be condemned by the Australian people. I commend to the bill to the House.