Why has Labor become anti-jobs?
The destructive anti-rural and anti-jobs actions of federal Labor have been slammed by a community group.
It has called on rural based Labor candidates in upcoming state and federal elections to take a firm stand against the party’s federal Shadow Water Minister Tony Burke.
Mr Burke says a cap which prevents Government from buying more water from the nation’s food producers would be removed under a Labor Government.
The cap was introduced because of the damage being caused to rural communities, including massive job losses.
‘‘Whatever happened to the Labor Party that protected jobs for Australians?’’ Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar said.
‘‘Has federal Labor abandoned the bush, its communities and the people who put food on Australia’s tables? This appears nothing other than political opportunism to try and win environmental votes in marginal city seats, and keep on side with South Australia which is under increasing pressure for its blatant waste of environmental water.
‘‘I’m sure it was no coincidence that Mr Burke made his shock announcement on radio in Adelaide, where Labor has important seats to win in the upcoming election. But we’re sick and tired of politicians like Mr Burke using our jobs and communities as political fodder.’’
Mrs Scoullar congratulated Labor’s Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville, a longtime advocate for rural communities adversely affected by the Basin Plan, who responded to Mr Burke’s comments by tweeting ‘‘We have always supported the cap and don’t want to see it removed.’’
Mrs Scoullar said traditional Labor supporters must be horrified at the party’s willingness to sacrifice jobs and destroy rural communities.
‘‘Reducing the productive capacity of the most efficient, clean green farmers in the world is surely not Labor policy? Labor used to stand for jobs and employment, but it seems the party is now prepared to rip the heart out of the agriculture sector, which is one of the largest and most reliable creators of employment in the nation.
‘‘It is also disappointing that Mr Burke, the architect of the Basin Plan, still doesn’t understand the problems and how to fix them. It also seems he has forgotten what he told the National Press Club when he was Water Minister.
‘‘He said: ‘. . . once you go beyond the 2750 (gigalitres recovered), with the constraints in the system for extra gigalitres of water you don’t get a significant environmental improvement’.
‘‘It seems politically convenient that Mr Burke previously understood the constraints issue, which we have been trying to highlight constantly, but now appears more interested in appeasing South Australia.’’
Mrs Scoullar said rather than trying to win votes, every politician should be looking for solutions to fix the Basin Plan mess which has been created.
This should start with standardised metering and compliance across the Basin, to the standard which exists in the Murrumbidgee, Murray and Goulburn Murray regions. The next step would be fixing problems at the end of the system, including re-diverting flows from the south-east of SA into the southern Coorong and installing Lock Zero which will not only help com- munities upstream but also provide security for Adelaide’s critical needs.
‘‘If Mr Burke was serious about fixing the entire Murray-Darling Basin, he would not be pandering to the South Australians, but instead demanding they stop using environmental water for recreational needs, and also start utilising their federally funded desalination plant instead of relying on Murray River supplies,’’ Mrs Scoullar said.
‘‘Of course he won’t do that because he’s more interested in winning marginal seats than repairing the environment that his politically-driven Basin Plan has been complicit in destroying.
‘‘Lifting the cap on buybacks will only bring more speculators into the water market and would be the nail in our food bowl’s coffin.
‘‘If Mr Burke and his federal Labor counterparts want to continue down this path, we believe it is time for Victoria and New South Wales to withdraw from the Basin Plan and commit to protecting the interests of their hardworking rural communities.’’