Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Joyce says no to spending on infrastructure upgrades in Murray-Darling

Media release
11 May 2012

Today in The Australian, the Shadow Minister for Water, Barnaby Joyce, reached new heights in the Opposition’s obsession with saying no to everything.

Mr Joyce was quoted as saying that taxpayers were being “ripped off” by money spent to recover water under the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program.

This program provides funding to farmers and irrigators to improve their infrastructure and become more water efficient. Water recovered is returned to the environment and counts towards bridging the gap in the final Plan for the Murray Darling Basin.

“For months the Opposition has said that they want less money spent on buybacks and more spent on irrigation infrastructure,” Mr Burke said.

“Now that the Government has committed extra money for infrastructure, the Opposition is complaining that the money has been spent.

“Barnaby Joyce and the Opposition need to come clean on where they stand.

“Will they support water reform that supports regional communities or will they continue playing havoc with communities in the Basin?

“A combination of investing in irrigation infrastructure and buyback is the best way to deliver water reform that restores our rivers to health, supports regional communities and ensures sustainable food production.

“It is true that recovering water for the environment through infrastructure investment is more expensive than simply purchasing through buyback.

“But it has a better outcome for communities and I make absolutely no apology for that.

“When we acquire water through buyback the Opposition says no. Now when we invest in infrastructure the Opposition says no.

“The truth is the Opposition is saying no to a healthy Murray Darling Basin.”