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The North-South Pipeline under the spotlight in Federal Parliament.

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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Federal Member for Murray Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Tuesday 25 November 2008

The North-South Pipeline under the spotlight in Federal Parliament

Sharman Stone, Federal Member for Murray said the North-South pipeline was the focus of the debate on the Water Bill in national parliament today.

“A series of speakers proposed anti pipeline coalition amendments be placed into the Water Amendment Bill 2008 which was introduced into the Senate today (Tuesday).

“These amendments required that the Murray Darling Basin Plan must not permit water for use in additional urban centres outside the basin. As well, the Basin Plan must not permit the construction or operation of water infrastructure (for example a pipeline) if its primary purpose was to take water outside the basin to an additional urban centre.

“These Coalition amendments are being supported by the Greens and the Independent, Nick Xenophon, which means they should be passed in the Senate, along with other amendments that call for social, economic, environmental impact statements to precede the Commonwealth purchasing any private water entitlements, structural adjustment packages to be paid, and more transparency of Commonwealth purchasing.

“Unfortunately, while these amendments are expected to be passed in the Senate, when the Bill and the amendments go to the House of Representatives for debate, the Labor majority will vote against and defeat the amendments,” Dr Stone said.

“Following this defeat, a Private Member’s Bill will be introduced in both the Senate and the Lower House. These Bills will again call for a halt to the pipeline on the grounds of environmental vandalism and inadequate social, economic and community impact assessment. Again, the Bills will be passed in the Senate, and be defeated in the Lower


“In one sense, you could say that this effort is futile, given the only thing that can finally stop the pipeline is Mr Brumby being shamed into acting in the State and Nation’s interest and diverting the billion dollars the pipeline will cost into water recycling and stormwater harvesting to drought proof Melbourne. On the other hand, we cannot leave any stone unturned as we make sure all those who listen to and report on parliament hear about the appalling impacts of the pipeline on Northern Victoria and the Murray Darling Basin.


“I have spoken against the pipeline in eight different speeches in Parliament, Dr Stone said, but it was really heartening to hear Senators from NSW and SA join in our cause.

“In responding to the pipeline amendment to the Water Bill debate in the Senate, Minister Penny Wong reminded Parliament of her colleague, Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett’s conditions which are supposed to be adhered to in the sourcing of the water and the construction of the pipeline under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

These conditions state that no water can be taken to Melbourne which has been or will be saved under the Living Murray or Water for Rivers investment programs (which includes CG1234 channel work and the Shepparton Modernisation project). She also

reminded the Senate that no water can be taken out of Eildon’s environmental reserve, (although Bendigo pipeline is already doing this), and the water saved for the pipeline must be independently annually audited.

“It is imperative that the Commonwealth holds the State Government to these conditions,” Dr Stone said.

“Unfortunately construction on the pipeline has already commenced, with apparently no regard being taken for the vulnerable species environmental planning required under the EPBC Act. Perhaps Minister Penny Wong will now start to put pressure on her Ministerial colleague to improve his oversight of the project,” Dr Stone said.

Media enquiries - Mr C.R. Chris Evans 0417 148 110