Wong says water fund won’t wash


Senator Wong told those she met yesterday her task was to find long-term solutions for the Murray-Darling Basin.

She said her visit five days after the Bali greenhouse conference showed the priority she gave to hearing from the people who were directly affected.

"I wanted to not just speak to the scientists and experts, but hear from the people," she said.

The low-interest loan scheme for irrigators to buy water from upstream farmers was championed by South Australian Premier Mike Rann. He told the Howard government it needed to free up $250million immediately for the scheme.

"We’re willing to consider any proposals put to us, but we need to ensure we take an approach that can be delivered nationally and we obviously want to make sure we don’t do anything that’s simply going to increase the price of water," Senator Wong said.

Mr Whetstone said irrigators sought to make the new Climate Change Minister aware of the strain the drought had placed on growers, families and communities.

"Really, we’re under siege at the moment with allocations that are not sustainable," Mr Whetstone said.

"We’re trying to highlight with the minister to let permanent plantings die is not only a huge loss to the economy, but it’s a huge loss to communities and to the specialist industries that we support."

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