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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5790

Senator HEFFERNAN (4:39 PM) —One thing we discovered during this inquiry by the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport into water management in the Lower Lakes and the Coorong, including consideration of the Emergency Water (Murray-Darling Basin Rescue) Bill 2008—and it was obvious to me from the day we set upon it—was that there is not the water in the system, despite what the green people say. We are dealing with the third most inefficient city water user in Australia—that is, Adelaide. We are dealing with the fact that, if the science is right, we need to get Australians generally to understand the science of the future rather than the history of the past. The science of the future is saying we are going to lose out of the Murray-Darling Basin somewhere between 3,500 and 11,000 gigs out of a total of 23,000 gigs over the next 40 to 50 years. Even if that is only half right, we have a serious problem. The 75 gigs that is proposed for Melbourne will be very critical to the Murray-Darling Basin. It will not be critical for Melbourne. All Melbourne has to do is recycle its water and collect its stormwater. Like Sydney, if it recycles 335 gigs and collects three major outfalls it will fix its water supply for the next 40 years.

With a view to the future instead of a wish about the past, it is patently obvious—as it was 100 years ago—that the Lower Lakes will be salt. People ought to get used to that idea if the science is right. There is no other way out of it. I have to say that I think the committee did a good job in discovering that there was not water available. There was a bit of politics played. That is fair enough; we are political. But all governments from all persuasions for all time have managed to muck up water. I would like to take the chamber through some of the ways that we have managed to cock up water over the last 100 years. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.