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Wednesday, 8 December 2004
Page: 25

Senator BROWN (11:12 AM) —There is an old saying that the way to hell is paved with good intentions. Everybody thinks this is a great intention. There are great sentiments about the Greens' amendment here—but, goodness, do not ask us to support it! Let us not put some teeth in this legislation, and if we are going to set schedules let us not do it before 2010—a couple of elections away at least.

It is just a derelict attitude. The stress on the river red gum forests—and we know that that is an emergency which every week, every month has catastrophic effects—is not because of the rainfall; it is because the river flow and the floods are being sapped by human use, more and more by industrial agriculture. The Greens have brought forward some measures to get the water back because this will be a crisis in the next 13 months. This minimal 240 gigalitres that the government is talking about should be 500 gigalitres. I ask the minister: when will the 500 gigalitre flow get back into the Murray? What is your time line, Minister, for getting that flow and what will it do as far as the river red gums are concerned? Will it turn around that awesome figure of 75 per cent stressed, dead or dying in those forests?