"Treasurer Peter Costello has let the cat out of the bag on the real strategy behind the PM's water plan," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"The fact that the whole $10 Billion plan was contingent on the Premier's signing away State rights was always Howard's key wedge, but the unspoken subtext was that the States wouldn't sign on and the money would never need to be spent," she said.
In defending the PM's failure to consult with the Treasury, Finance and Environment departments on the costings for the plan, Mr Costello today claimed that the costings profile would not be finalised until such time the Commonwealth had received the Premiers agreement and handover, saying:
"If the Premiers don't agree, then this could be delayed for years."
"The clear implication of Peter Costello's comments is that Cabinet insiders felt that there really wasn't a need for a detailed plan and the Prime Minister was not expecting to have to put our money where his mouth is anytime in the near future," said Senator Siewert.
"I suspect that Mr Howard won't be too pleased with this slip of the tongue from the Treasurer," she said.
"If the Prime Minister was really serious about tackling the water crisis he would have put the work into talking to the Premiers about it first," she concluded.