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Water sharing threat anger

The Murray Pioneer, Thursday 12 March

A threat by Queensland's alternate premier Lawrence Springborg to walk away from the Murray-Darling Basin's water sharing pact if he wins office later this month has angered South Australia's Murray irrigators. SAMI chairman Tim Whetstone said last week that the threat further highlighted the need to fast-track plans to give the Federal Government ultimate control of the basin's water resources.

Springborg was quoted last week as saying he was prepared to renege on the historic Murray-Darling Basin deal if it made local Queensland farming comunities worse off.

He said he was "sick of Queensland being the bogeyman" and asserted that the big water users were "actually downstream".

Whetstone said the comments were not new and far from surprising, although he had fielded a number of calls from angry irrigators struggling to survive the current water restrictions.

"He's lucky none of us get to vote in that election," Whetstone said.

"This type of parochial state-against-state attitude has held back real reform for long enough.

"It has been going on for more than 100 years and now just as real reform appears on the horizon we have a potential state leader trying to make short-term political gain by opposing long overdue reform that is fair to all Australians."

Whetstone said it was more important than ever for the Federal Government to step in and realise that implementing reform over the next eight or nine years as planned was too long to wait.

"Waiting almost another decade to get all member states on board would enhance the chances of its effectiveness being further diluted by short-sighted politicians like Mr Springborg," he said.

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