The Abbott Turnbull Morrison Government are not serious when it comes to building new dams.
They treat dams as thought bubbles and change their minds on these so called schemes more quickly than they change leaders. People in northern Australia will be sceptical. And rightly so.
In 2011 they announced a taskforce on dams in response to flooding – it was a plan to establish a committee – it went nowhere.
In 2013 Tony Abbott planned to build “100 dams and harvest nation's riches” but on the same day Greg Hunt said “We have no proposal for 100 dams as such". 5 years on and they still haven’t built a single dam, let alone 100.
The NAIF has also been an absolute failure – it’s only invested in four projects in three years.
We have seen a number of Green and White Papers announced with fanfare but still no dams built.
As Water Minister Barnaby Joyce talked about dams a lot but did not built a single dam.
Today the Abbott Turnbull Morrison Government returns to re-announce its 2013 proposal only it has now reduced the amount of dams from 100 to 9.
Today’s report also includes a quote from the NT Farmers chief executive Greg Owens questioning the Coalition’s scheme ““big dams on iconic rivers like the Daly, Roper, Mary or the Fitzroy in WA are not needed and will cause major environmental impacts that no one in the north wants”.
Construction of dams is a serious matter. Any proposal has to stack up environmentally and commercially.
A site needs to be selected carefully - with the correct topography, rainfall and soil type. Environmental impacts and impact on neighbouring groundwater also need to be looked at to make sure it stacks up.
A dam not only needs to be tested for its environmental impact but particularly its impact on other agricultural activities.
The Abbott Turnbull Morrison Government has had over 5 years in government and all they will do is blame Labor for their lack of action. They have been too busy fighting over each other’s jobs rather than focussing on creating jobs in northern Australia.
Labor not only supports the building of dams where they stack up, unlike the government, Labor has actually built some.
It was Labor that approved the development of Ord Stage 2; commenced process of upgrading Chaffey dam; funded and opened the Headquarters and Milford Dams in Tasmania; commenced construction on the Midlands Water Scheme and continued the Southern Highlands Irrigation Scheme.
More recently it was Labor that led the way in supporting work on the Burdekin Dam and Rookwood Weir. Labor will build the Rockwood Weir and we’re the only party that will fix water security in Townsville.
As Treasurer, Scott Morrison presided over cuts to the GST in the Northern Territory and cuts to schools, hospitals and universities.
His last budget did not deliver one new project for the north.
All we see from the Coalition is thought bubbles and hollow promises. Labor will wait to see further detail from the Government.