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Rural Australia sacrificed.

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

The purchase of Toorale Station in the Bourke Shire will do nothing to improve the current drought induced crisis in the Murray Darling Basin, the Shadow Minister for Water Security, John Cobb said.

Mr Cobb said until we have seen the promised socio-economic impact studies on the effect of buying water from these communities and the Commonwealth and State Governments can clearly define what their environmental objectives are and exactly what the sustainable yields in the valleys are, we can not support ad hoc buybacks.

“The Bourke community has been gutted by the news one of the nations major food producing properties, Toorale Station will be turned into a National Park.

“With over 100 hundred jobs directly lost as a result of the purchase of Toorale Station coupled with the on-going drought and the 400 jobs lost from the mines in neighbouring Cobar the economy of far western NSW has taken a massive hit under the Rudd Government’s policies.

Mr Cobb said the Rudd Government had abolished the Coalition’s $1.5 billion structural adjustment package which was part of the $10 billion National Plan for Water Security.

“Country communities are extremely concerned they are being sacrificed to the environmental green shoe brigade by the Rudd Government who has shown they could not care less about the future of rural communities.

“At the very least all fixed charges such as council rates, Rural Land Protection Board rates and water charges should continue to be paid by the State and Federal Governments.

“The decision to buy Toorale Station is a huge blow to the Bourke Community and the affects would be felt by all Australian’s as the Rudd Government has already announced it will be buying up huge tracks of prime agricultural land in Queensland to obtain the water entitlements which in turn will further drive up the price of basic food items.

“We all know the NSW Government has turned NSW into an economic basket case and already questions are being asked about how they will manage Toorale Station.

“Leaks from the NSW National Parkes and Wildlife Service suggest that the Service has been told to draw up a two year management plan for Toorale Station, but they have been told there will be no extra funding for the new National Park.

“Minister Wong needs to explain what will be happening with the wheat crop on Toorale Station. It would be a national disgrace given global food shortages, if this crop was not harvested.

Mr Cobb said the water stored at Toorale will be need to released back into the river immediately as summer is approaching and the stored water will begin to rapidly evaporate.

“I hold grave concerns the water stored at Toorale Station will be release at the height of summer and unless there are major rains in the short term to run the Darling River then not one drop of Toorale’s water will reach the Menindee Lakes.

“It is now obvious that under the Rudd Government’s current water policies when the drought finally breaks, MDB communities will go from a climatic drought straight in to a Rudd made drought,” he said.