Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Coalition's hypocrisy on Murray Darling Basin

Media release
18 October 2010

For the last two weeks the Coalition has been shouting from the roof tops that they oppose the Guide to the Draft of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

For the sake of a few cheap political points the Coalition has turned their back on what Malcolm Turnbull described as “... one of the greatest environment challenge facing us today” (Media Release, 22 March 2007) and John Howard described as the “greatest environmental challenge of our time” (Speech to National Press Club, 25 January 2007).

The Gillard Government understands that the Murray Darling Basin needs reform.

None of this reform is easy. It requires clear communication and comprehensive public consultation.

The misinformation campaign being run by the Coalition will not help concerned irrigators and regional communities.

Tony Burke said, “There's significant misinformation out at the moment. I can understand why there's anger, given that people think that this report is government policy. It's not.

“They think the numbers in it are locked in. They're not.

“People think that the Government would compulsorily acquire their water. We wouldn't. We only purchase from willing sellers.

“They think the good work that's already being done won't be taken into account. Well, it will.”

During the election campaign, in a joint media release, Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce and Simon Birmingham announced, “The Coalition will release the draft Basin Plan within two weeks of coming to office and proceed with its implementation without delay.”

The Gillard Government won’t be rushing into anything. We will allow the Authority to conduct its consultations over the next twelve months to ensure that we get a balanced Plan that will restore the river to health, ensure the importance of food production, support strong regional communities.