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Monday, 18 October 2010
Page: 446

Mr BRIGGS (2:38 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Why is the expenditure on major water-saving infrastructure and on-farm efficiency $400 million behind the original schedule? When will the minister release a timetable for the implementation of the $5.8 billion of investment infrastructure allocated to the Murray-Darling Basin by the Howard government in 2007?

Mr BURKE (Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) —I thank the member for Mayo for the question. As the member for Mayo’s question acknowledges, we are talking about reforms that began under the Howard government, and I am very pleased to hear that being acknowledged. The level of bipartisanship sometimes gets forgotten in moments in here but on water it has been there.

The $5.8 billion that was referred to refers beyond the on-farm irrigation to actual centralised irrigation infrastructure—that is the $5.8 billion that was referred to in the question. Those applications have come in from the states and there is a process of due diligence that the department quite properly is going through in making the assessment on those individual state applications for that money. If there is a call for the due diligence not to occur, I would be surprised by that. It is a large amount of money and the due diligence work that is going on is appropriate.

An opposition member—It is a real howdy doody show.

The SPEAKER —I’ll give you howdy doody, Member for North Sydney.