Bob Carr’s premiership hadn’t just entered
into its imperial phase when he spent $100,000 dollars flying the meeja off to Dubai to announce the site of Sydney’s water
desalination plant.
He was one step short of making his horse a senator. Or Joe Tripodi a minister.
Take your pick. Yampy.

In his first interview as Parliamentary
Secretary to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull left the desalination plant
idea high and dry. The Daily Telegraph reported:

On his first day as parliamentary secretary
to Prime Minister John Howard, Mr Turnbull demolished the planned desalination
plant at Kurnell as a cash-guzzling white elephant and branded Mr Iemma’s team
a “lazy Government.”

“The problem with desalination is that
it is bottled electricity. It uses an enormous amount of energy to produce,
four or five times more than using recycled water,” Mr Turnbull told The
Daily Telegraph
yesterday.

“You’re looking at $1.50 a litre to
produce fresh water. That is incredibly expensive,” he said.

Given the job of shaping the Federal
Government’s approach to the country’s water crisis, the Member for Wentworth
called on Mr Iemma to consider recycling water instead of pursuing the
controversial Kurnell plant.

“The State Government has been lazy and
inactive for a decade. A water crisis is approaching and they’ve been caught
out,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We should be moving towards using
recycled waste water to water golf courses and parks.”

Still,
that plodder Maurice Iemma is plodding along with Carr’s mad idea – much to the
amusement of one Crikey reader who’s taken a look at the public consultation
process. They report:

One weekend about a fortnight ago there were something like
three ads in the one newspaper edition. Why I wondered? To say you have
consulted do you have to do at least three ads? Anyway I decided to visit
Eastgardens Shopping Centre and go in search of the Sydney Water stand last
Sunday to see what the ads were about. What did I find?

  • A community
    consultation that appears to be very last minute. Despite the assessment being
    dated November last year the only ads I actually saw – except in that day’s Sun
    Herald
    proudly proclaiming the times for Saturday and Sunday consultations
    – Saturday already being over and Sunday turning out to be the very last day, at
    least at East Gardens – were the aforementioned.

  • An
    information booth that was passive and really did not facilitate questions. Nor
    the probing of the actual report upon which the submissions are supposedly
    invited.

  • A vehicle
    for passing on Sydney Water key messages presented as “Fact Sheets.”

The consultation period was proudly advised as being for 71
days, but I was advised Sunday was last day of Sydney Water’s presence at
Eastgardens. Seems that they were not only keeping the time short but also
demographically contained – very local and contained to areas around Kurnell.

Yet this is of interest to all of Sydney. Interestingly, there was no consultation at
Bondi Junction, but then Sir Humphrey may know that the good citizens there do
have a good track record in agitating in relation to outfalls into the sea…

The deadline for submissions is up this Friday, February 3.

Peter Fray

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