Posted on 19. May, 2011 in News

The Baillieu Government has condemned Melbourne households to higher water bills by refusing to accept water from the state’s drenched north, Labor’s water spokesman John Lenders said today.

Under questioning at a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing, Minister for Water Peter Walsh confirmed that while Northern Victoria’s dams were nearly full, the Government would not use the opportunity to fill Melbourne’s dams.

“Mr Walsh thinks the time to deliver to Melburnians the water they’ve already paid for is when we are in the middle of the next drought and when Northern Victoria will need it most,” Mr Lenders said.

“What he wants is to stop Melburnians getting the water they’ve already paid for, and replace it with new and expensive recycled and storm water projects that will push prices up even further.

“He sees nothing wrong with Melburnians having paid $300 million for the water, and a further $180 million in water dividends to the State Government this year, because he is ideologically opposed to a major infrastructure project that helped drought-proof our state for more than four million Victorians.

“He also sees nothing wrong with spending new money on sustainability projects, after axing Target 155, the most successful water conservation project in Victoria’s history that cut average usage by more than 20 per cent, to levels lower than during World War II.

“And after calling for the Eastern Treatment Plant to be completed ahead of Labor’s schedule of 2012, he now admits he has done nothing about it, and that the project will not be completed until well into next year.

“So out of this budget, the Coalition has failed to deliver on its one capital works promise, has forced up the price of water for four million Victorians because of its blinkered ideological position, and has axed the most successful water conversation program Melbourne has had.”

Mr Lenders said the Minister also refused to rule out the compulsory acquisition of land in its voluntary buyback scheme.

“Despite persistent questioning on whether he supported compulsory acquisition of land in the floodplains, he repeatedly refused to answer,” Mr Lenders said.


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