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Watered-down agreement lacks financial scrutiny

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 23 Feb 2007

"The Premiers have missed an important opportunity to get our water management right," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"While the political pressure for a decision is intense, sustainable water resources and climate change are the biggest environmental challenges of our generation."

"Our governments need to get it right," said Senator Siewert.

"Although the Premiers and the Prime Minister agreed on a level of parliamentary scrutiny for high-level policy recommendations, the PM ruled out the same scrutiny for financial recommendations," she said.

"We are concerned there will be no parliamentary review of financial decisions. The allocation of resources within the Basin is where we have seen some of the biggest problems in the past and where the greatest political pressure is brought to bear."

"We are talking about a $10 billion dollar plan which hasn't been costed properly and has been described as a back-of-the-envelope effort," said Senator Siewert.

"We heard in Senate Estimates last week how rubbery the figures are and how little the PM consulted with the experts," she said.

"The water plan needs financial scrutiny and parliamentary oversight," she concluded.

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