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Opposition opposed to purchase of Toorale.

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PW 177/08 11 September 2008


The Federal Opposition has made it clear they are opposed to buying water from willing sellers to improve the health of the Murray Darling Basin.

Yesterday under a landmark agreement, the property was purchased by NSW today for $23.75 million, with substantial funding assistance from the Australian Government.

NSW will take responsibility for preserving the land, and there is an agreed process for transferring the water to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.

The agreement delivers a significant boost to environmental flows in the Darling River, whilst also providing a boost to the National Reserve System.

However, the Federal Opposition have today indicated that it is opposed to this purchase and the Government’s objective of purchasing larger irrigation properties so that water can be returned to the rivers.

Today, the Shadow Minister for Water Security, John Cobb, described the purchase as an “anti-rural Australia act.”

It has also been reported today that a meeting of shadow water ministers in Sydney yesterday called for a moratorium on further purchases of irrigation properties.

This is at the same time as South Australian Liberal politicians demand action to save the Murray.

Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong said:

“The Opposition can’t have it both ways. They can’t say they want to save the Murray but refuse to purchase the water that will restore its health.

“It is clear that the Opposition is saying one thing downstream in South Australia, and another thing entirely in rural communities upstream.

“The Rudd Government is determined to improve the health of the Murray Darling Basin by purchasing water from willing sellers, and returning that water to the rivers.”