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Do not sacrifice Murray Darling irrigators to political expediency.



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Thu, 3rd July 2008 DO NOT SACRIFICE MURRAY DARLING IRRIGATORS TO POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY

The Hon John Cobb MP Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Water Security

The Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Water Security, John Cobb, has warned COAG against making a knee-jerk reaction to the environmental crisis facing the Coorong and Lower Lakes at the COAG meeting tomorrow.

''I am particularly concerned by reports that Federal Water Minister, Penny Wong, wants to remove the four percent annual cap on trading water out of any region,'' Mr Cobb said.

''Buying water entitlements for water that doesn't exist will not result in one extra drop of water going to the Lower Lakes, but it will threaten the long term viability of irrigators.

''Food security is an international issue that is yet to hit home in Australia, but with the wrong step we are going to have a mighty crisis here.''

Federal, State and Territory governments must produce a sustainable plan from the meeting that respects property rights for irrigators and provides structural adjustment, and does not sacrifice farmers and local communities living and working in the Murray Darling Basin to Labor's political expediency.

''If action is to be taken at this time, governments should provide funding for the carting of water to the Lower Lakes and the Coorong, and access to groundwater to meet immediate needs.

''If an intergovernmental agreement is to be signed on critical human needs, it should reflect the current contingency plan and not take water out of the Murray Darling Basin to solve John Brumby's problems in Melbourne.

''Senator Wong should immediately withdraw support for the North-South pipeline which will take up to 70 billion litres per year from the basin to flush Melbourne's toilets.

''If there is one thing you don't do in times of shortage is add to that shortage by tapping Melbourne into the Murray Darling Basin,'' Mr Cobb said.