Premiers must fix water plan before signing
"State Governments should not sign up to Howard's water plan today," said Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on water resources.
The Greens are urging State and Territory leaders not to sign away their powers over water until they've made sure the plan will actually deliver.
"It is essential that the Premiers make sure the hard decisions are made before they sign on the dotted line," said Senator Siewert.
"The plan has been cobbled together without priorities, targets and timelines. Right now it has more holes in it than a sieve," she said.
"The plan has major flaws and gives the States no guarantees that their pressing problems will be resolved and their water resources secured," said Senator Siewert.
"For example, unless we solve over-allocation first we could end up investing hundreds of millions of dollars in irrigation infrastructure in some areas where allocations ultimately need to be bought out and properties converted to dryland farming," she said.
"Who is responsible for natural resource management in our riverplain and catchments?"
"What are the environmental flow targets?"
"Premiers should ensure that there are clear targets and timelines for the return of environmental flows, and any deal should have a sunset clause that provides for a full review of the plan's success," said Senator Siewert.
"It is disappointing but not surprising the NSW Premier Morris Iemma has already jumped the gun and been quick to hand over control of water in his state," she said.
"Unfortunately water management in NSW has been a basket-case for some time - with a state election campaign pressing and no easy answers it is no wonder he wants to wash his hands of it."
The Greens are urging Premiers to give serious consideration to the model being proposed by SA Premier Mike Rann, and consider having an independent regulatory authority and an independent environmental trust.