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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
16 September 2004
Labor's policy for the Murray River is too little, lacks detail and credibility, and is based in questionable accounting.
It focuses on one river - all other river systems can now join the Latham Loser list.
Labor's target of increasing flows by 450 gigalitres is less than the 500 gigalitres expected through the Coalition Government's initiatives.
Labor's 10 year total of 1500 gigalitres doesn't say where the water will come from, how much it will cost or who will pay.
Labor States are now pulling out of the National Water Initiative - to detract attention from the embarrassment that is the Federal Labor Murray policy.
More worrying however is that this political stunt is putting in jeopardy the water entitlements, compensation and water trading arrangements that underpin the National Water Initiative.
How can Labor create a dedicated Riverbank authority without the costs appearing on the bottom line. What is this illusion?
If Labor expects to be taken seriously it should submit its policy to the Department of Finance for scrutiny.
The Coalition Government has already committed $1 billion to restoring the River Murray to a healthy working river. If re-elected it will invest a further $2 billion on water initiatives across Australia.
Latham Labor's Murray policy was launched at the juncture of the Darling and Murray Rivers - the same spot that Bob Hawke launched his failed billion trees initiative some fifteen years ago.
Just like Labor's billion trees initiative Labor's Murray policy has the potential to be another Labor example of over-promising and under-delivering.