Permanent bore solution would mean the death of the Darling River
MEDIA RELEASE – 24 June 2015
The Greens NSW water spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today condemned the government for considering permanent bore water as a long-term solution to Broken Hill’s water issues, accusing Minister for Lands and Water, Niall Blair of caving into cotton irrigators and condemning the Darling River to die.
“The cotton industry is whispering into the new water minister’s ear and he’s now looking for ways to deliver more water to upstream irrigators at the expense of those downstream such as Broken Hill, and a healthy river,’ said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
“The best long-term solution for Broken Hill and Menindee is to revive the Darling River, but this requires a strong government with the resolve to take on irrigators in Northern NSW and Southern Queensland.
“Choosing to put the City of Broken Hill on permanent bore water would be a tragic signal that the government has given up on the Darling River and is abandoning the Menindee Lakes in favour of cotton irrigation.”
Hansard transcript of Mr Jeremy Buckingham’s question to Water Minister Niall Blair:
BROKEN HILL WATER SUPPLY
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Lands and Water. On the issue of bore water supply for Broken Hill the Minister’s predecessor, the member for Barwon, stressed to the Barrier Daily Truth “… these bores are only a short term solution to the immediate water problem …” Has the Minister ever described the deep bores being drilled near Copi Hollow as a “long-term option” for Broken Hill’s water supply? If so, does that represent a change in policy by the Government?
The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: First of all we need to put on record a few things that the Government is doing to secure not only the short-term but also the long-term viability of the Broken Hill and Menindee communities when it comes to water availability and supply. We are putting a record amount of funding into short- and long-term solutions for the community of Broken Hill. Today’s budget contains a line item of $2 million for the preparation of a business case for the best long-term solution for the communities of Broken Hill and Menindee. We have also committed up to half a billion dollars to fund whatever the long-term solution will be. That will be a record amount spent to ensure the future water security of any regional community. When I was in Menindee and Broken Hill—
Mr Jeremy Buckingham: You won’t be going out there soon.
The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: If you just listen to the answer you might learn something. When I was there I met with different stakeholders and user groups. They all had different views on what the long-term solution should be. As I said, we will spend up to half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to come up with that long-term solution. We will do a proper business case. We will spend the $2 million to look at every one of the solutions that the stakeholder groups have put forward. That is what a responsible government does. It is what a government that is able to deliver a budget like today’s budget does.
A responsible government listens to the community and puts all of the options that the stakeholders have raised on the table. It prepares a business case and comes up with the best value for money solution for New South Wales taxpayers and the people of Broken Hill and Menindee. The business case will address the issues that the communities have raised with us including those relating to recreational activities and long-term security. It will also make sure that productive water is available in other parts of New South Wales to propel the economic drivers that I spoke about in my previous answer.
Mr Jeremy Buckingham: Yes, Cotton Australia.
The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Absolutely. Cotton is one of the viable industries that are important to the communities that are relying on them to provide jobs and create stability. Yes, we have $2 million in the budget for a long-term business plan for the long-term water security of Broken Hill and, yes, we will look at all of the options. We will make sure that when we come up with a long-term solution for Broken Hill and Menindee it will be the one that provides the best value for money for the people of Broken Hill and New South Wales. It will be the solution that gives the community certainty so that tourism operators in Broken Hill can continue to put up “open for business” signs. It will ensure that when people want to invest and businesses want to employ people in Broken Hill they will know that water will not be an impediment. We are spending up to half a billion dollars to ensure that we provide that certainty for the people of Broken Hill.
Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916