Turnbull?s blueprint smacks of pre-election stunt, says Cohen

By Alex Easton alex.easton@northernstar.com.au A PIPELINE carrying water from the Clarence River to South-East Queensland through the Northern Rivers would ultimately put our water supplies at risk, Broken Head-based Greens MP Ian Cohen warned yesterday. Mr Cohen attacked Federal Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull's plan, describing it as a stunt aimed at shoring-up voter support in Queensland ahead of this year's Federal election. However, if the Government insisted on pushing the plan through, it would sacrifice the Clarence River's environmental integrity and fishing industry in exchange for a temporary reprieve from extreme water restrictions for some Queenslanders. Mr Cohen said that unsustainable water use, combined with strong population growth, was the real problem South-East Queensland had to address, and that proposals such as Mr Turnbull's could only be a Band-Aid solution. Reliance on a pipeline would ultimately create a temptation to draw on Northern Rivers water sources when the Clarence failed to supply enough. If the Federal Government could override local concern to dam the Clarence, there would be nothing to stop it doing the same here, he said. "I think part of this process is this benign attitude to the Commonwealth taking over water resources for the Murray-Darling so they can work it all out," Mr Cohen said. "This is the galling side of that equation, where the Federal Government wants to push straight across the states and what you get is a massive disaster on our hands while the Federal Government gets a pre-election boost from it."



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