House debates

Monday, 15 June 2020

Questions without Notice


2:24 pm

Photo of Terri ButlerTerri Butler (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. The government came to office promising 100 dams, and for seven years now the last dams built were Labor projects. What support is the government giving the Brogo Dam and the Eurobodalla water storage supply projects.

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

We're getting on with the job of building dams. I've never once had the shadow minister for water come to my office and say, 'I'd love to see these dam projects put on the list.' But, rest assured, Anthony Lynham from the Queensland government has. I've had good discussions with him about building dams. I haven't had any with the shadow minister, and, if she were really serious about building dams, she would have raised it a lot sooner than that. In New South Wales, Melinda Pavey has had good discussions about building dams. We talked last week in the parliament about Dungowan Dam. We talked about the $480 million that we're putting—I see the member for New England nodding. We're raising the dam wall at Wyangala: a $650 million project. We are getting on with the job of business cases and actually putting shovels in the ground to build more dams, and we will continue to do that—$3½ billion we've got. I know Deb Frecklington in Queensland has a project scheme where she wants to link up dams, where she wants to build dams, and we acknowledge and are certainly going to invest in that. I know the member for Kennedy wants dams built in his electorate. We've had good discussions. So I invite you to do what the member for Kennedy has done: come down to my office, let's have a discussion, whether it's a New South Wales dam, whether it's a Queensland dam—wherever the case might be.

We have put in place the national water grid, established on 1 October last year. That is going to cut through some of the bureaucratic red tape that has impeded the building of dams. Rest assured: we cannot build dams without the say-so, without the help, without the assistance of the states. That's how our federated model works. I know that might be a bit of a confusing thing for the member who asked the question, but we're getting on with the job of making sure that, through the national water grid, we have the plan and we have the purpose, and we will build water infrastructure. You only have to look at what we're doing as far as agriculture is concerned—we want to raise it from a $60 billion enterprise to $100 billion by 2030. Fiona Simson and everybody else involved in the august National Farmers Federation understands that you can't grow or continue to grow even further the best food and fibre in the world through our farmers—the world's best farmers, the world's best environmentalists—without water. And that's why we are investing heavily in helping to drought-proof our nation. We will continue to do that. We will continue to do it through better water infrastructure, and I welcome the member coming to my office—sit down, have a cup of tea with me and talk about it.