Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Bills

Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012; In Committee

11:55 am

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (Queensland, National Party, Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

Yes, a rolled gold budget surplus. So I am sorry if there is a hint of cynicism, but I think that for Minister Burke it is just skiing downhill very quickly from that point as to where exactly this all leads.

What I can also say—without being a smartypants—is that, in regard to the figures, Senator Farrell is correct that 665 is our current position, but this legislation is subsequent to the current position and I think you will find that 483 is the position you are at after the plan. Therefore, if you are talking about 450, that is proximate to 483, and if you have 200 wandering off to Adelaide then that is vastly more than the agriculture sector in South Australia uses. If we are to suggest to South Australia that we are going to take all the water from their farming sector and half the water from their major city, I think they would be rather surprised.

So these are all the questions that we have. These things should be straight off the top of your head. Yes, you are dead right that 665 is now, but we are not living in now; we are talking about a subsequent piece of legislation after the plan is complete. After the plan is complete, by your own figures, you believe that we will end up with about 483 gigs, and if we are taking 450 and it is from buyback and there are no real controls on it then there would be the possibility to take all the water from South Australia and some of the water from the city of Adelaide. I do not think you want to do that. That is why we try to set down targets and not get people compelled to reach these outcomes. I might also tell you that is more water than I think you will find Queensland is extracting at the end of this plan, so once more you are going to shut down all the irrigation towns in my area. To be honest, I live in an irrigation town. I think Senator Nash and Senator McKenzie are also in the basin. But this is why it is extremely important that we get this right.

It also stands to reason that if there were some authenticity about this figure and if the government actually meant it itself then it would have to allocate money in the forward estimates. It has not. It has no intention of allocating money in the forward estimates, because there is no money. What the government has made is this massive promise out into the never-never. How are you going to hold anybody to that? Also, most importantly, 'up to' was what was originally there. That was the original position, so why did it change? Why did we change away from 'up to'? It is quite simple: to placate the government's coalition colleagues in the Australian Greens. That is well and good, but one may be so bold as to suggest that, in placating your coalition colleagues in the Australian Greens you are doing yourselves unmitigated damage in your own political branding.

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