Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Tony Abbott a risk to Murray Darling Basin reform

Media release
8 February 2011

Tony Abbott has today again failed to commit to the future of the Murray Darling Basin.

Water Minister Tony Burke said Mr Abbott's proposal to delay hundreds of millions of dollars in water buybacks would put at risk progress on reform in the Murray Darling Basin.

"Mr Abbott doesn't believe in the need for water reform in the Murray Darling Basin," Mr Burke said.

"Mr Abbott's proposal is ill-thought out, politically motivated and demonstrates his lack of understanding about the how the Basin works.

"When Mr Abbott was a Minister, not one drop of water was purchased to improve the health of the Basin.

"The reason Mr Abbott wants to delay water buybacks is because he does not believe in the need to reform the Murray Darling Basin.

"The Government has not been buying individual litres of water, it has been purchasing ongoing water entitlements and only from those who put their water on the market.

"The best time for communities to make a transition away from over-allocation is when there is substantial water in the system.

"But Mr Abbott thinks that now we've had substantial rain there will never be another drought.

"The Gillard Government is determined that the next drought does not look like the last one. Mr Abbott has today shown Australians that he's quite relaxed if it does.

"Today's announcement shows that Mr Abbott wants to return to a do nothing policy on the Murray Darling Basin.

"The Gillard Government is determined to deliver a plan for the Murray Darling Basin that restores our rivers to health, supports strong regional communities and ensures continued food production."