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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Question Without Notice
Thursday, 16 May 2002
Minister, why did the government spend less than half the money allocated to the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality this year, and why has it cut the National Action Plan's budget by $49 million next year and a further $52 million the year after? Isn't this money desperately needed to help solve our land clearing problems, to ensuring environmental flows in the Murray Darling Basin to make projects such as the Wimmera Mallee pipeline a reality and to improve water quality in towns and cities like Adelaide? Minister why aren't you delivering these commitments in full on time and on budget as promised?
Mr Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question.
In addition to hiring a new statistician, an analyst of budget figures, he might care to get his hearing checked. Mr Speaker, the reason why the expenditure on the National Action Plan was delayed was because your mates in Queensland and NSW and WA chose to play shabby politics with the Australian environment. They refused to sign the bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth which they know are necessary to allow the funds to flow. They were prepared to continue to see salinity destroying our agricultural land. They were prepared to see the Murray Darling Basin continue to be polluted without taking any action or taking advantage of the very generous offer of the Commonwealth to put some $700 million into an Action Plan to restore the quality of water and to address salinity in the Murray Darling Basin.
Mr Speaker it is quite clear that this shadow minister has no grasp of these issues. If the Victorian government was serious about the Wimmera Mallee pipeline and not just making further rhetorical claims it only has to do one very simple thing, it only has to do one very simple thing - it has to set its priorities in its funding under the National Action Plan and the Natural Heritage Trust and it will be able to get money flowing into Victoria for that priority project.