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Monday, 1 December 2008
Page: 11922

Mr HUNT (5:18 PM) —As of this moment, the government, the Prime Minister, Senator Wong and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts own the north-south pipeline. By disallowing the amendments that the Senate has made to block the north-south pipeline, by overriding not just the Liberal Party, the National Party, the Greens, and Family First but also the Independents, and by overriding the will of the Senate, what they are saying to the people of Victoria, the people of the Goulburn and the people of the Murray is very simple: green light to Mr Brumby for the pipeline and red light to the Senate, which sought to block this pipeline. They will override the Senate. They will make the Senate’s work void. They will say to the people of Victoria: ‘There is no hope. We have ruled that this pipeline will go ahead.’ They have made the Senate meaningless by overriding the will of the Senate. And in addition they have done it by overriding a very simple amendment which calls for the Living Murray agreement to be honoured.

The Living Murray agreement was an agreement which was designed to introduce and to return water to the Murray. That water will now, through an accounting trick, be held back for two, three, maybe four years and sucked up the pipeline instead of going down the Murray and down the Goulburn as was intended. This is utterly outrageous.

Another thing they do in these amendments is knock on the head $50 million for the people of the Lower Lakes, people who have not had access to structural adjustment funding for small businesses—for the communities, the boat builders, the boat operators and the tourism operators. At the end of the day we will stand by our amendments from the House. They cover a range of matters but, most importantly, they stand to protect the people of the Goulburn and the Murray from having water taken away by the north-south pipeline. We will stand by the people of the Lower Lakes.

But let it be known that from this moment forward, Kevin Rudd owns the north-south pipeline. He has given it a green light. He has overridden the Senate. He had used bullyboy tactics and numbers in this House to override the will of the people in the Senate. It is a dark day for people who care about the future of the Murray and the future of the Goulburn and the future of the Lower Lakes.