Nothing is clearer to Australians during a drought than the importance of water in sustaining us. I am very pleased that areas of the Electorate have received some rain over the last several weeks but I am still conscious of those areas that have missed out. Our hopes are with those families, that they find themselves under a heavy raincloud in the very near future.
The money that has been allocated by the Federal Government in the drought package for rebates for water infrastructure projects has been very well received. Farmers work with the land every day and they understand the importance of water in making Australia a productive nation. Farmers are the ultimate conservationists.
One of the water saving initiatives that has been very popular is the work that has been done to cap and pipe existing bores in the Great Artesian Basin. The Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI) was implemented under the Howard Government in 1999. Inefficient bore water management and unregulated bores led to a lot of wasted water through evaporation and seepage over the years and the GABSI program has fortified those bores.
Through the GABSI initiative, with cooperation by the State and Federal Governments, landholders received up to 80% of the cost of capping and piping uncontrolled bores including design work.
In the 2013 budget the Labor Government withdrew a remaining $22 million from the GABSI despite phase 3 of the scheme still having 12 months to run. With still over two hundred uncontrolled bores in New South Wales this disregard for such an effective and popular program is incredibly disappointing.
After 6 years of Labor Australia’s debts have piled up. These debts have been amassed because of programs that have been mismanaged, because of wasteful spending and with no thought to how this debt would ever be brought back under control. The Coalition was elected last year because Australians want to get the books in order. This will not be an easy task and it will require some decisions that will be unpopular.
I have spoken with my colleagues in Canberra and with the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, about GABSI. There is still work to be done and over the last 15 years we have seen how effective this partnership between Governments and landholders can be. The benefits for the Great Artesian Basin, our environment and our production are apparent.
The Howard Government acted with great foresight to implement GABSI back in 1999. I look forward to a day when further work on the capping and piping of uncontrolled bores across the GAB can continue.