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No basin plan: don't waste $400 million.



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Mon, 8th September 2008 NO BASIN PLAN- DON'T WASTE $400 MILLION

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

The fact that the Minister for Water, Ms Wong has admitted there is no silver bullet to return water to the Murray Darling Basin to ease the current crisis and the Basin plan will not be in place until at least 2011 she should not be buying any water entitlements at this time.

The Shadow Minister for Water Security, John Cobb said the only reason Minister Wong is buying water now is to take advantage of a depressed market and people at their most vulnerable as a result of seven years of drought.

“The Minister also want to give the impression the Rudd Government is doing something.

“Any other business or organisation that used a closed tender process with no transparency to deliberately manipulate the market would be open to claims of breaching the Trade Practices Act.

“There needs to be a fully transparent water market set up which allows instant real time access to water trade volumes, location of water entitlements traded and price per a megalitre of water traded, similar to the Australia Stock Exchange.

“Until we have seen the promised socio-economic impact studies into the effect of buying water from these communities will be, we can not support these ad hoc buybacks.

Mr Cobb said it is totally amoral for the Minister to use the Commonwealth’s power to manipulate the vulnerable position of drought affected farmers. Particularly when she has admitted on ABC radio the Rudd Government has no idea of how much water they actually want to purchase.

Mr Cobb said the Rudd Government’s botched its first $50 million water buy-back by buying the cheapest water which turn out to be nothing more than airspace in dams, returning just ten swimming pools worth of water to the Murray River.

“The Rudd Government will have to buy up huge tracks of prime agricultural land in Queensland to obtain the water, and compensate farmers for on farm storage infrastructure, which in turn will further drive up the price of food.

“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.

Mr Cobb said under the Labor Party already spiralling food prices will only get higher.