Title Food Bowl Modernisation Project: Holding still has not sent it to Garret!
Database Press Releases
Date 14-10-2008
Author STONE, Sharman
Citation Id M6UR6
Cover date Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Format Online Text
In Government no
Item Online Text: 1758447
Key item No
MP yes
Pages 1p.
Party LPA
Speech No
System Id media/pressrel/M6UR6

Food Bowl Modernisation Project: Holding still has not sent it to Garret!

The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Federal Member for Murray Wednesday, 14 October 2008

Media enquiries: C. R. Evans (Mr), 0417 148 110

Food Bowl Modernisation Project: Holding still has not sent it to Garret!

THE Victorian Government has not yet referred its Food Bowl Modernisation Project for assessment and approval by Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett – under the EPBC Act – despite promising three weeks ago that it would soon be sent to him.

The Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone, today said there may be no environmental problem with the project but expressed concern that the State Minister for Water, Tim Holding, had not yet referred it to the Federal Minister for approval.

“Mr Holding knows it is a Federal requirement that a project like this be referred to the Federal minister, but he is sitting on his hands,” Dr Stone said.

A Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesman last month said that the project would be referred to Mr Garrett under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999, before the end of the year.

The EPBC Act requires that any action which may have significant environmental impact must receive Federal ministerial approval before it can commence.

Construction work has been under way for almost six months. The final report of the project’s steering committee was released in November last year.

The aim of the Food Bowl Modernisation Project – which among other things involves the lining of irrigation channels with plastic sheeting, changing water measurement techniques and the installation of 1000 automatic flume gates – is to streamline channel operations and hopefully “save” water, some of which will go to Melbourne.

“Under this act, Mr Garrett could find it necessary to set any number of conditions which could result in the project not only being altered but even stopped altogether. This is public money, being spent on public works.

“I therefore urge Mr Holding to communicate with Minister Garrett to resolve exactly what the Federal Government expects of the Victorian Government so that he doesn’t end up in contravention of his obligations under this very important Federal law.”

Dr Stone said the existing channel system involves some seepage and includes outfalls which both deposit water in wetlands.

“Some native species - such as tortoises, snakes, fish and birds, muscles and yabbies - use the eastern channels as habitat and food supply,” Dr Stone said.

“The EPBC Act requires that changes to habitat be analysed and their impacts, assessed. This is the law, and the Victorian Government is simply ignoring their responsibilities.”