Abbott’s 100 dam plan leaked

ACCORDING to a leaked report, a Tony Abbott-led Coalition Government would build up to 100 new dams across the country to prevent floods, fuel power stations and irrigate a food boom to feed 120 million people across the Asia Pacific region.

The Daily Telegraph says it has obtained a copy of the Coalition’s draft policy discussion paper for water management of Australia which includes a list of dam projects, which include a $500 million plan to raise Warragamba Dam in Sydney, and new dams for NSW in the Hunter Valley, Central Highlands and along the Lachlan River.

The last major new dam built in NSW was Splitrock – in northern NSW in 1987.

The majority of the dams would be in northern Australia, where they would be used to irrigate arid zones for agriculture and more than double Australia’s food production.

The Coalition’s environment spokesman Greg Hunt told ABC Radio this morning that no decision had been made on any particular dam proposal, suggesting some may not be viable.

“We have no proposal for 100 dams as such,” Hunt said.

“Those are initiatives which other people have suggested to us and we’ve simply chronicled the submissions.”

But Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce has rejected suggestions the draft discussion paper was just a pre-election thought bubble.

“This has been worked on for nearly two years, travelling the countryside, examining sites over the past couple of years,” Senator Joyce told reporters in Canberra.

“This is certainly not a thought bubble. This is a key policy.

“This is a story about water, dams and leaks,” said Labor frontbencher Craig Emerson in Canberra this morning.

“Mr Abbott has had three leaks in three weeks. This is a strange way to release policy.”

Dr Emerson says the Coalition now needs to explain how it is going to pay for the mutli-billion dams plan.

“The Australian people expect the release of fully costed policies, so that they know about the policies of both parties, and… where the money is coming from.”

Mr Abbott says new dams would only be built after a thorough cost-benefit analysis, but argues many projects would not need government funding.

“The proponents would fund them because the spin-offs – in terms of agricultural development, in terms of hydro electric power, in terms of flood mitigation – are just really too good to ignore,” he told Macquarie Radio.

The Greens have described the Coalition’s discussion paper as “poorly thought through and environmentally reckless”.

“While the Greens are releasing considered, costed policies, the Coalition are leaking crazy thought bubbles with $30 billion price tags that will devastate the environment,” Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said in a statement.

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