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Govt failed to consult CSIRO on water audit

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 9 Sep 2008

"It's clear why Penny Wong didn't want this inquiry" - Greens

The Greens-initiated Senate inquiry into the Coorong has already shown its value, after it immediately discovered that the federal government has failed to consult with leading agencies like CSIRO about the water audit and modelling for getting emergency water to the Coorong.

"It is clear now why Minister Penny Wong didn't want this Senate inquiry," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens water spokesperson, said in Canberra today.

"First the inquiry heard that the so-called 'independent' water audit will be merely an independent review of the Murray Darling Basin Commission's methodology, not an independent audit of water storages."

"Then the inquiry heard that federal government hasn't bothered to consult CSIRO, the leading agency with the most up-to-date modelling on sustainable yields for the Basin, about the getting water to the Coorong and lower lakes. I am astounded and I think it shows just how valuable this Senate inquiry will be," Senator Siewert said.

"Dr Hatton said that CSIRO could deliver modelling on water availability for the Coorong within weeks of being provided information about water storages and water flows. The government should provide CSIRO with the information immediately so the modelling can be made available as a matter of urgency."

Senator Siewert also said returning the water from Toorale Station was important for the health of the entire Basin.

"Toorale Station holds more water from the Murray-Darling River than Adelaide takes out of it in a year and it should be returned to the river," said Senator Siewert.

"However I'm deeply concerned about the management of overland flow and unregulated water which state governments have failed to tackle. Taxpayers are being expected to pay for water that should never have been taken in the first place."

The Senate committee will travel to Adelaide tomorrow for further public hearings.

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