Funding announced today for the River Murray Improvements Program is another election re-announcement that demonstrates Labor’s contempt for South Australian river communities.
Senator for South Australia Simon Birmingham, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray-Darling Basin, said South Australian river communities were tired of being treated as political playthings by Labor.
“From day one, Labor has played politics with the Murray-Darling Basin and this re-announcement is a perfect example,” Senator Birmingham said.
“This funding was announced with great fanfare by the Federal and State Labor Governments in October last year. Seven months later, it was revealed in Senate Budget Estimates the program had not yet been approved.
“That was the appropriate time for Labor to confirm its funding commitment. Instead, the Minister and the South Australian Premier remained silent, leaving South Australian river communities in limbo. The timing of this re-announcement during the election speaks for itself.”
Senator Birmingham said the River Murray Improvements Program would be a priority for a Coalition Government.
“If elected to Government, the Coalition will move to make this funding available as soon as possible,” he said.
“South Australian river communities deserve some solid ground under their feet after all these years of uncertainty while Labor played politics with water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin.”
Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston, who is based in the Riverland, said the Coalition had been committed to the River Murray Improvement Program since it was first proposed by the Water Industry Alliance (WIA).
“We supported it from day one because it was through this program that South Australian river communities could achieve recognition for their responsible, efficient use of water over the past four decades,” Senator Ruston said.
“River communities have been waiting almost a year since Labor’s first announcement for the details of the program, particularly when applications will be open and what eligibility criteria will apply. They deserve better, and that’s what they’ll get from a Coalition Government.”