Jun 28, 2024 | Media Releases, Media Releases 2024

Today’s meeting of Water Ministers to discuss the release of the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into the National Water Reform renewal, followed by a meeting of the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council, is unprecedented in its brevity.

Shadow Minister for Water and Emergency Management, Senator Perin Davey said never have so many Labor Water Ministers had so little to say on major water policy reforms.

“Honestly, it would have taken the bureaucrats longer to write the communique than it took for the water ministers to meet,” Senator Davey said.

“Considering this was the first meeting of all Water Ministers in over a decade, you would think they would need more than an hour over skype just to get through the introductions.

“The Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council hasn’t met for over 16 months and yet they only had one skype hour to discuss 11 different topics – that is less than 5 minutes per topic.

“I honestly don’t see that time being enough to answer the very legitimate questions the Victorian Water Minister raised on ABC radio this week, including how the Commonwealth is proposing to proceed in a way that takes account of negative socio-economic impact.”

“We talk about this government treating consultation as a tick-a-box exercise but not even we would have thought they would adopt that approach to their own state colleagues.

“How can an hour be enough time to talk about a 320-page report, its four recommendations and nine findings?”

Senator Davey said it was also odd that the release of such a major report into the future of water management in Australia didn’t even warrant a media release from any Labor Minister, instead it was buried on the Productivity Commission’s website.

“Maybe because the report identified some jurisdictions do not wish to retain some of the core National Water Initiative (NWI) commitments in a new agreement,” she said.

“But if that is true, that is all the more reason to get all the jurisdictions around the table to talk it through.

“It is becoming more evident that this Water Minister has lost interest since ramming through legislation to recommence buybacks.

“She couldn’t even be bothered turning up to her own agency’s River Reflections conference, instead offending all who had travelled to the event to hear her by sending a three-minute video of platitudes.

“Stakeholders and State Water Ministers alike deserve more of an effort by this Government to genuine consultation and collaboration,” Senator Davey said.