THE Federal Opposition has given the Victorian Government one month to justify its plan to pipe billions of litres of irrigation water to Melbourne before the Opposition initiates a Senate inquiry into the affair.
The Victorian Government continues to withhold details over the amount of water forecast to flow down the north-south pipeline in 2011, amid growing evidence that flows will be significantly less than the maximum flow of 75 billion litres.
Pipe water will be sourced from savings made through irrigation infrastructure upgrades in the Goulburn-Murray region and diverted to Melbourne via the $600 million-plus pipeline.
But drought and the several years required to build the upgrades have led to pessimistic flow forecasts — for the pipe's initial years at least.
Now Opposition water spokesman Greg Hunt has announced moves to establish a national inquiry into urban water programs, with a major reason being Victoria's failure to consider alternatives to the north-south pipeline and the equally contentious Wonthaggi desalination plant.
"We have seen increasing evidence that the State Government claims of 75 billion litres of surplus water are fabricated," Mr Hunt said.
"It is time for an independent public inquiry into the reality of water savings under the Food Bowl Modernisation program, and the necessity of any savings remaining within the Murray-Darling system rather than being taken over the divide to Melbourne."
Mr Hunt warned that if the State Government would not come clean the Federal Opposition would move for an independent inquiry.
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