Media Releases | 15th Sep, 2004

Labor delivers on key green election ask

Thursday, 16 September 2004

The Labor Party has raised the stakes in the election, firmly placing the environment as a key priority with today’s announcement of the $1 billion Murray River plan, said the state’s peak conservation group.

“Labor has delivered on a key policy ask by conservationists. They have listened to the concerns of science, local communities and farmers about the urgent threats facing the Murray and this policy clearly shows they are prepared to deliver,” said Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers Campaign Director Dr Paul Sinclair.

“This policy will make a strong, healthy and resilient Murray now and into the future. It is the best commitment that has been put on the table for the Murray so far.

“Compared to the Coalition’s Australian Water Fund, which was a grab bag of vague promises, Labor’s policy is new money and it clearly delivers on critical targets.”

Dr Sinclair said the Murray was Australia’s food bowl, supporting about 42% of all Australia’s farms and directly supporting more than 2 million people.

“It is therefore in the interests of all stakeholders – from farmers to city dwellers – to ensure the Murray survives and is not exploited, fouled and sucked dry to the point of extinction,” he said.

“If we don’t restore the Murray now, we will merely transfer greater social and economic costs and risks onto future generations.

“The policy will inject $1 billion into Victoria’s regional communities to ensure clean and green irrigation.”

Australia’s top scientists and independent researchers are in no doubt about the severity of the problems facing the iconic river. It will take $500 million to deliver 500 billion litres which is a first step for the Murray. Science says another 1000 billion litres is needed if the river is to have a chance of being healthy.

“Science is clear the river needs 1500 billion litres of water and Labor’s promise to match this figure is a lifeline for the dying river.”