Thursday, 29 October 2020
Questions without Notice
National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility
My question is to the Prime Minister. The government has announced, and re-announced, the failed National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility in 50 press releases spanning four years. In this year's budget the facility was abolished without having written a single loan. Why is the Morrison government always about the photo-op and never about the follow-up?
The budget—which is a plan for the future, a blueprint, a vision for what we laid out for the future for COVID recovery—included $2 billion for water infrastructure on top of the $1½ billion that we've got for the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. We are getting on with the job of building water infrastructure. We're working with state governments. I look forward to working with Deb Frecklington, the Liberal National Party state government in Queensland after Saturday, to build water infrastructure in North Queensland. Hells Gates, Big Rocks Weir, Rookwood Weir—let's get on with that. We've put $176.1 million on the table. What we've seen, unfortunately, is procrastination and stalling by the state Labor government in Queensland. We'll get on and we'll build it. We want willing partners—Hughenden, Macalister. We go further south. We've got Stanthorpe and Emu Swamp. I know how important that is for water security and for the irrigators at Emu Swamp. In fact, they've put up millions of dollars of their own money towards that project. I know how important building dams and building pipelines is. There's Mitiamo. We go to Scottsdale in north-east Tasmania. We are getting on with the job. I can hear the member for Watson shouting out. He wanted to take water away from our irrigators. He wanted to take water away from the Murray—
No, you won't repeat the question. The Leader of the Opposition. I've just got to say sometimes I'm in two minds about these, but, on this, no way. That question had a statement, and the question—this is question time—was: why is the government about the photo op, not the follow-up? That was the question.
Mr Albanese interjecting—
They actually do tape this. I don't think it is a big deal, Leader of the Opposition. So the question really is wide open, just because it has a statement attached to it at the start. The member had the opportunity to ask a specific question about the program she spoke about, but she didn't do that, and the Deputy Prime Minister's completely in order.
An honourable member: No way!
I didn't ask you!
When it comes to Labor, their actual water policies don't hold water! But I see the member for New England; he's very delighted that we're changing from loans to grants. There are the Dungowan Dam and Wyangala Dam. Those two projects in New South Wales are going to add to water security, help flood mitigation and provide water for agriculture—and, if there's one thing that we're going to do and we're striving to do on this side, and we've got a plan, it's to build agriculture from a $60 billion enterprise to $100 billion enterprise by 2030. Now, there's a 2030 target that is absolutely worth striving for, and we are going to do it. The National Farmers Federation are very much behind it. At Dungowan Dam, near Tamworth, on the Peel, we're going to replace the dam that they've got that they've had since 1958. It's going to make sure the people in and around Tamworth can get on with the job of building agriculture in northern New South Wales. Dungowan Dam and Wyangala Dam—raising the Wyangala Dam wall by 10 metres—are going to add to the capacity of inland New South Wales by the equivalent of 1.2 Sydney Harbours. That's water. That's a plan. We're getting on with it; you just talk about it.
Ms McBain interjecting—