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Minister, please clarify desal plans, asks MP

Member for Bass, Brian Paynter MP, has asked the Minister for Water Lisa Neville to clarify her plans for the Wonthaggi Desalination Plant.

The Wonthaggi Desalination Plant is a public-private partnership. It is the result of a hastily implemented decision by the former Bracks/Brumby Labor Government. As a “take or pay” contract, Victorians are now required to either off-take a prescribed amount of water – or pay for it in any event. We are currently paying $1.8 million dollars per day for a plant that is still not producing water.

The Minister has struggled to explain how we pipe water from the desalination plant to an unknown destination in Northern Victoria to help support the communities struggling with drought. The Minister has also failed to explain how it will be possible to take water from the south to the north without spending billions of dollars and whether Victorians have to wear this cost on top of the $1.8 million per day that they already obliged to pay.

Quotes attributable to Brian Paynter, Member for Bass

This again highlights the incompetence of this current government and former Labor governments.

As it stands, there is now no incentive for successive governments to put in place policies which reduce consumptive behaviour. We have been stuck with a lemon because Labor signed a long term contract with the private sector, whose aim is to maximise the upside and increase our dependence on the water it produces.

On the grand final eve public holiday we had the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford tweeting that it was great to see the sun shining whilst ignoring the dire straits of our farmers who have resigned to the fact that their wheat and barley crops will be lost and cut for hay because of the drought.

Dams and reservoirs are at record lows across the northern part of our state whilst this government claims they can flick the switch on the desalination plant to pump water into the Thompson Reservoir. Clearly they failed geography.

Minister for Water Lisa Neville had no answer to the question of how water from the desalination plant will be used to supply water to the north of the state.

We need a government capable of constructing and implementing a plan for the supply of water across our state. Not a government making ridiculous statements and making decisions that waste billions of Victorian dollars.

Media Contact: Ann Selby 5672 4755

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