Government targets Tweed water supply
By DARREN COYNE
TWEED politicians are concerned the Federal Government is intent on tapping into the Tweed's water supply.
Federal Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull is waiting on a report which will assess the idea of siphoning water from the Tweed catchment to supply dry areas of southern Queensland.
A spokesperson for Mr Turnbull's office said the report was currently being prepared by the Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation although she was unable to say when it would be complete.
And today, in Canberra, Prime Minister John Howard meets with the leaders of Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT in Canberra to discuss his plan to take control of the Murray-Darling as part of a $10 billion water package.
Meanwhile, the NSW Bureau of Meteorology yesterday confirmed that the Tweed area was part of just two per cent of New South Wales which is not drought declared. The situation is South East Queensland is just as dire after years of neglect by the Beattie Government.
Tweed MP Neville Newell has slammed Mr Turnbull's proposal to pump water from the Tweed, as has Richmond MP Justine Elliot.
Mr Newell is worried that the so-called national approach to water management would result in the Federal Government selling out 'our local estuaries, marshlands, fisheries and other industries to benefit Queensland - benefits that flow only one way.
"Queensland already gets $3 billion a year in GST from NSW taxpayers - the Federal Government has made sure of that," Mr Newell said.
"Turnbull has repeatedly tossed around the idea that the solution to south-east Queensland's drought problems is to pump water from northern NSW. Of course he has not said how much water would be needed from areas like the Tweed or the Clarence, what the impacts would be to our local industries and environment, or what the cost of such a plan would be.
He pointed out that the Prime Minister John Howard was quoted in The Australian last year supporting the idea of tapping into the Tweed's water supply.
"I'm not trying to have a go at the states ?..(but) it is to me absurd that you should have a surplus of water in northern NSW and a crisis in southeast Queensland," Mr Howard said.
Richmond MP Justine Elliot yesterday said she would stand up to Mr Howard and Turnbull if they tried to take Tweed's water away.
"I'm very much opposed to our water being used in other areas. A lot of locals have raised this as an issue with me and my first concern is that the people of the Richmond electorate are able to access sufficient water resources, not only now but for future generations," Mrs Elliot said.
"We've seen massive over-development on the Gold Coast and I don't want to see that happen here. We have to protect our resources," she said.