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COAG agreement on water reform.

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Senator Meg Lees Australian Progressive Alliance Senator for South Australia 29 August 2003


COAG Agreement on Water Reform

Australian Progressive Alliance Senator, Meg Lees, welcomed today’s COAG agreement on a national water reform package but highlighted the fact that little has been done to restore water to the rivers.

“It is a historic agreement that shows federalism can work when there is enough goodwill from all parties,” said Senator Lees.

“The agreement on a frame-work for water property rights is a tick for water trading, water efficiency and federalism.

“However, a tick for the market is not necessarily a tick for the environment. Only one aspect of water reform has been addressed.

“The issue of environmental flows to ensure river health has not been adequately addressed,” said Senator Lees.

“Water trading has the potential to further reduce the amount of water in the river. As the value of water increases, dozer licences will be activated meaning more and more water will be used.

“The water market needs to work for the environment as well as irrigators,” said Senator Lees.

“If the COAG ministers are serious about water reform they must now agree that no new irrigation areas should be opened up and that water saved from any upgrades to existing irrigation schemes should be left in the river.

“The South Australian Government could contribute immediately by ensuring the new Clare Valley pipeline is for domestic consumption only and by “declaring” the Eastern Mt Lofty Ranges which will get those rivers flowing into the Murray again,” Senator Lees concluded.

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