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$10bn plan too important to fall victim to politics.

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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon Mark Vaile MP Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Transport and Regional Services Leader of the Nationals

05 June 2007 087MV/2007


Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals Mark Vaile has warmly welcomed positive discussions between Prime Minister John Howard and Victorian Premier Steve Bracks on the $10 billion National Plan for Water Security.

Mr Vaile said the Plan would ensure the productivity of irrigation and sustainability of communities in the Murray Darling Basin in the long term and was: "far too important to irrigators, their communities, and the Australian economy, to not go ahead".

Victoria has held off endorsing the Plan, which has been supported by the governments of the three other Murray Darling Basin states since February.

Mr Vaile said Victorian irrigators would be big winners when the Plan was implemented.

"If over-allocation is dealt with, and thats a cornerstone of the Plan, then reliability, and certainty, improves for everybody," Mr Vaile said. "That might be perceived in Victoria as an indirect benefit, but it is a very real, and a very important, benefit nonetheless."

He said a more direct benefit would be Victorian access to the $6 billion for improved water efficiency. Mr Vaile predicted a significant proportion of the funding would be spent in Victoria.

"The Goulburn-Murray system, for example, while one of the most productive in the Basin, is based on literally ancient technology that would be recognisable to the Pharaohs.

"It will be a prime candidate for redevelopment and irrigators will get to keep 50% of the water. Thats a great deal for irrigators, and a great deal for the environment."

But Mr Vaile said more important was that the Plan went ahead for the benefit of the Basin as a whole.

"Australia simply cannot afford to see the productivity of the most important agricultural region we have degraded by inadequate governance. We have to ensure that productivity is maintained, and the Coalitions plan for Commonwealth leadership, with state support, and $10 billion, is the way to do that," Mr Vaile said.

"I hope that the remaining differences with Victoria can be settled quickly, and in a manner that is consistent with the support of the other states, so we can then get on with it."