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Anderson sets record straight on water reform.

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18 August 2000 A131/2000


Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson today welcomed a joint attack on the Federal Government over rural water policy by the Queensland and NSW water ministers because he said it served to highlight their complete contempt for irrigators.

Mr Anderson said the NSW and Queensland governments were deliberately misrepresenting comments he had made about water reform in an effort to distract public attention from their own failings.

"Minister Amery in NSW and Minister Welford in Queensland both know that the major failing of the rural water reform process in their states is their failure to deal fairly with irrigators and their communities," Mr Anderson said.

"Both Labor governments behave as though they can disregard in a cavalier way the enormous social and economic impact on many rural communities.

"The COAG water agreement makes it clear that water property rights need to be clearly defined - something that has not happened in NSW or Queensland despite constant pleas from irrigators for this to happen.

"At the moment, irrigators have water property rights that the states are trying to remove without giving them any financial assistance or compensation for that loss.

"It is this act, that I have previously referred to as sovereign bastardry, to which I object," Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson said he had made it very clear that the Federal Government was strongly supportive of the water reform process and this included the cap on diversions in the Murray Darling Basin.

"In recently calling for a review of the COAG water agreement, I highlighted two areas that need to be addressed - water property rights and ensuring the rights of the states to make further investments in new water infrastructure are not undermined.

"Ministers Welford and Amery should check their facts before shooting from the lip."

Media Contact: Robyn Bain 0408 027 839

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2000 Last updated:  Monday, 21 August 2000