Government Backflips on Water Security Promise and Abandons Plans to Expand Sydney Desal Plant

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Labor has called on the Government to explain why it has abandoned plans to safeguard water security and expand Sydney’s water desalination.

It has been revealed in a letter to IPART from the Water Minister Melinda Pavey that the current expansion process for the Sydney desal plant has been put on hold and the terms of reference for the pricing investigation have been withdrawn.

The Shadow Water Minister Clayton Barr slammed the move as short-sighted and demanded the Government push ahead with the project.

“What a backflip! Only months ago, the Water Minister said the expansion of the Kurnell plant would be undertaken as quickly as possible. She clearly lied and isn’t serious about water security in NSW,” Mr Barr said.

“The Government has sent the message that this project will only proceed under extreme drought, which makes no sense. Just because dam levels are high doesn’t mean we should forget the drought.

“In fact, the best time to expand the Sydney Desalination Plant is when we are not faced with the extreme time pressures of a worsening drought. It beggars belief that the government can publicly spruik an infrastructure-led recovery, while cancelling vital infrastructure.

“Despite a growing population, the Government has failed to add any additional water storage capacity to the Sydney water network. The decision to cancel the expansion of the Sydney desal plant is absurd given we have a changing climate with longer periods of hotter and drier conditions.

“The Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, has said many times we would learn from the drought – well just like the Water Minister, Ms Pavey, he doesn’t live by his words. This Government has not learnt from anything its past mistakes.”