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COAG writes-off the Coorong

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 4 Jul 2008

The frenzy of COAG media announcements and back-slapping from State Premiers and the Prime Minister was curiously silent on the most pressing issue - the need to deliver an emergency water rescue package for the Coorong and Lower Lakes.

"This is a decision by omission" asked Senator Rachel Siewert this evening.

"COAG just announced a death sentence for the Coorong."

"Yesterday's announcement was another small and very expensive step down the road toward getting agreement on governance of the Murray Darling Basin."

While we welcome the commitment of COAG to establishing the Murray Darling Basin Authority and agreeing that in the fullness of time there will be a whole-of-basin plan, I cannot get over the fact that there is nothing to address the current environmental crisis in the lower Murray," said Senator Siewert.

"When we consider that Kevin Rudd does not appear to have secured any new water to rescue the Murray this winter, you have to question what he has actually bought on his $3.7 billion COAG shopping spree."

"$300 million is being spent to 're-engineer' the lower lakes and build a pipeline to bring fresh water from further upstream for local farmers so, in Mike Rann's words, "Â…they no longer need to take water out of those deteriorating lakes,"" she said.

"I wonder how Kevin Rudd will explain to the international community his decision to rip up our commitments under the international treaty on Ramsar wetlands."

"It also sounds like Mr Rudd has offered to bail out NSW and take over responsibility for all liability arising from their irresponsible over-allocation of water licences."

"Our governments should be ashamed they can't do better that this for the Murray," concluded Senator Siewert.

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