Thursday, 3 December 2015
Questions without Notice
I say to the honourable member that the government has a very deep commitment to the development of the north, as the honourable member knows. The honourable member is right that there are very substantial unexploited or underexploited water resources in the north. There are challenges, of course. Northern Australia—which, of course, is a gigantic piece of real estate—is generally flat. That is one of the challenges for Australia as a continent overall, because we do not have as many natural dam sites as we would like. In very flat country, it is expensive to store water, both from a construction point of view and because of the consequent evaporation.
But I can assure the honourable member that the government is very focused on ensuring that water resources in the north are sustainably exploited. The Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources has an absolute commitment to dams. I think it was Peter Walsh, wasn't it, who said: 'You know when an election is underway—you can feel a dam coming on.' Well, let me tell you: the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources has dams coming on in his mind in every part of the electoral cycle. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that water is exploited—sustainably, of course—to the economic benefit of all Australians and, in particular, where the honourable member comes from in Northern Australia, where there is plenty of opportunity for further exploitation of those vast water resources.