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September 14, 2004

I'll be on the road today showing some people from China Geographic around the river country of the Murray Mouth and Lower Lakes.

On the surface this looks to be okay--if it is tied to the National Water Initiative's objectives and timelines of reducing the over-allocation of water in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Then a project like the water proofing Adelaide, which will enable Adelaide to reduce its dependence on River Murray water, one can be funded. This reduction can be achieved by modernizing our water infrastructure to capture stormwater runoff from Adelaide's watershed in the western Mt Lofty Ranges; by recycling waste water in urban Adelaide and by increasing water efficiency in households and businesses.

This would be a significant step. Where is the ALP on this? What is it going to do? How is it going to achieve its goals of returning 1500 gigalitres to the River Murray? The ALP has gone very quite on the environment. Have you noticed? -- Since this is vital political issue in South Australia we can expect a counter ALP announcement in the next few days.


A discussion paper on the water proofing Adelaide project can be found here. The project has not progressed very far because the Rann Government has not put up the money. They talk the talk of Adelaide becoming a sustainable city, but they never put the money on the table.

It is the same with Adelaide as a solar city.

If the $2 billion is not linked into the objectives and timelines of the National Water Initiative, then the project's will be highjacked byboth the National Party and the recalictrant irrigators who see no reason why they should use technology to make their use of water more efficient.

Does this River Murray initiative mean that the marginal seat of Adelaide is looking a little bit safer for the Howard Government? Or will the state government counter it by banging away about the lost future competition policy payments?

Will more environmental policies be needed for those marginal inner urban seats. Or is a big ticket symbolic issue, such as saving Tasmania's old growth forests from destruction?

16 September
The ALP's River Murray rescue package has been announced It rightly concentrates on the core issue of restoring environmental flows, but makes no mention of the National Water Initiative, nor does it indicate how farmers will be compensated for reduced water allocations.

Though Howard appears to have outbidded Latham on the Murray the Howard package did not cut through in SA. It was blocked by Latham's proposal. Howard will have to do something more to cut through and stop the slow but steady drift to the ALP in Adelaide's marginal seats.

The Labor states have pulled out of the National Water Initiative because they have lost future competition payments. The Labor premiers have repudiated the $500million federal-state CoaG agreement and turned their backs on years of negotiations about the how risk from reduced water allocations is to be shared between federal and state governments and farmers.

How can they pull out of something they have already signed up to?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:53 AM | | Comments (2)


Is this the same group of Chinese Geographic folk who were dumped by Meg Lees when the PM snapped his fingers and demanded she present herself?

[Allegedly] INDEPENDENT senator Meg Lees made a surprise appearance at one of John Howard's campaign events today following a last-minute summons from the Prime Minister's office.

The former Australian Democrats leader cancelled a local radio interview and temporarily abandoned a Chinese Geographic reporting team she was showing around the Murray River area to answer Mr Howard's call.

"When the prime minister's office calls, you drop everything. Local radio can wait," Senator Lees said.


I'm a little suprised at your guillability in accepting that a tabloid journalist would give a truthful account of what happened in alien territory. Where is your sceptical eye?

1.There was no "temporary abandonment": the China Geographic were accompanied by a representative from Lees office and WWF all day.

2.There was no snap and demand by the PM. That is not an accurate account of the relationship between the executive and the Senate.

3. If SA is going to get federal money for its section of the River Murray then it has to sell its case. Otherwise we will be forgotten back in the eastern states.

3. The Senator was invited to show the PM around the Murray Mouth. She also showed the Chinese Geographic journalist and photographer around the Coorong in the afternoon in the company of local environmentalists. The purpose was to show them the migratory birds from China and the dredging of the mouth.

4.How would the journalists know what happened? The only journalist interested in the Chinese Geographic trip down the River Murray was the local one from the Victor Harbor Times. All the Canberra Press Gallery journalists did was accompany the PM down the Mouth from Adelaide then back to Adelaide in their big bus.

The tabloid account is not an accurate one. Nor is that journalist very interested in how we address the River's problems or whether the money announced by the PM could help SA.