SA wants our water story
Tuesday, 8th June, 2010
A group of South Australian Shadow Ministers will tour the Menindee Lakes system today and get the facts from the people on this side of the border.
The group, led by Deputy Leader of the SA Opposition Mitch Williams, are here on an invitation from Broken Hill City Council.
Mr Williams is accompanied by Shadow Minister for Environment and Conservation Michelle Lensink, Opposition Whip and Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick, Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone, Senator Simon Birmingham and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray Darling Basin Leonie Williams.
Yesterday they visited Country Water's treatment plant and yesterday evening were to meet with Council's water resources working group and have dinner with the Mayor.
Mr Williams said Council's invitation came in the middle of the election campaign. With that behind him he gladly accepted.
"I told some people that I was coming and some hands went up, and here we are," he said.
"I guess we're taking up the opportunity to talk to Council and find the relevant issues for Broken Hill's water supply.
Mr Williams said the Menindee Lakes were "very important to us in South Australia".
"They certainly are a political football," he said.
"We in SA are concerned the monies earmarked by the Howard Government and taken as a priority by the Rudd Government are still sitting there.
"We feel the time for major structural works on the lakes were when it was dry. Now it's flooded it's too late. We'll have to wait for the next drought now. That's frustrating."
SA irrigators and farmers were seeing their businesses collapse under the weight of water shortages, he said, and rankled at reports of "hundreds of gigalitres being lost to evaporation and dead storage".
"I want to be on the ground and see it for myself. I question the wisdom of filling Lake Menindee itself, especially given that the water making it down is less than expected," he said.
Mr Williams said he fully appreciated the social and environmental aspects of the lakes for the region - as it mirrored SA's relationship with the lower lakes. But he did not agree that Lake Menindee should have been filled.