22 June 2004

Rain tanks, recycling in water pipeline

The report, by the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, precedes a meeting on Friday to decide on a national approach to water-rights reform.

Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson was reluctant to say yesterday whether he would commit to a plan where farmers, the states and the Commonwealth would each pay one-third of any water-rights buyback dictated by future scientific discoveries.

His spokesman later welcomed the report calling for mandatory rainwater tanks and said the Government was still considering the idea of water bonds. Controversially, the report renews the committee's call to hold back a plan to put another 500 gigalitres into the ailing Murray River until more research on the environmental impacts of extra flows is complete.

'The committee is not swayed by commentators who portray the river as dead or dying,' wrote chairwoman Kay Elson. But South Australian Liberal MP Patrick Secker, representing the Goolwa electorate, said: 'I believe the science in many areas of the Murray-Darling basin is adequate.'

Wow, a newspaper that actually identifies what a parliamentary committee is doing. Water reform is not a sexy issue ad does not often make the floor of the House but a mountain of work is done in the back rooms. I've read the committee's chapter on the Murray-Darling. It's not quite a snow job, but it comes very close. The precautionary principle alone suggests the 500 megalitres cannot harm the river.

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