The Labor Party has turned its back on NSW Basin communities with Federal Water Minister Tanya Plibersek’s admission that funding, previously allocated for water infrastructure, is being redirected into a secret fund to undertake water buybacks.
In last week’s Federal Budget, funding was cut to the National Water Grid, the New Dungowan Dam and Wyangala Dam wall raising projects were deferred, and other dam projects cancelled with Labor reallocating the funding for ‘water projects’ including buybacks.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the revelation was absolutely heartbreaking for NSW Basin communities, given the current natural disaster so many are facing.
“At the same time, the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government has been working to improve water security for farmers and communities, Labor seems hellbent on stripping it away,” Mr Toole said.
“NSW has already done the heavy lifting when it comes to implementing the Basin plan and when Basin communities are struggling through record floods, Labor has decided this is the perfect time to kick them yet again with the prospect of buybacks.
“Rather than help invest in infrastructure projects that provide certainty for our communities, Labor is adding to the uncertainty with an unknown quantum of funds and scant detail on how it will be spent.
“This Budget was a golden opportunity for Labor to show it is serious about investing in the regions to help build a brighter future – and it has failed dismally.”
Nationals Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson said NSW is extremely disappointed by Labor’s disregard for the people of regional NSW and their right to access our most precious asset – water.
“The Labor Party had already walked away from regional NSW by cutting funding for the crucial National Water Grid, and now they have now confirmed those funds could be used to cause more harm to our Basin communities,” Mr Anderson said.
“The ultimate goal of the Basin Plan was to ensure there is enough water in drier times for our environment, for our towns and for our farmers.
“The science has told us wet times will only get wetter and dry times will only get drier so now is not the time to be cutting funding for dams and water security infrastructure.”
Mr Anderson said NSW had worked hard to deliver the Plan in a way that benefits all water users.
“NSW wants to continue to work in a collaborative manner with the Commonwealth and other Basin states to finalise the plan in a way that does not hurt NSW communities,” Mr Anderson said.
“I am calling for Labor to back us in, rule out non-strategic buybacks and help us fast track the infrastructure that will ensure we are better prepared for the next drought or flood.”