There’s little wonder Morris Iemma has jumped aboard John Howard’s hastily-cobbled $10 billion Murray-Darling water grab – it’s a rare political win-win for both governments. The only loser is the NSW Liberal opposition.

A state Liberal MP, who shall remain nameless, told me a week or so ago that while he thought the PM’s policy was a good thing, it’s timing could be most unfortunate for his side if Dilemma climbed aboard, as the opposition wanted to target Labor on just that issue.

The Dumnut opposition successfully targeting Labor on anything would have been refreshing, but Morrie must have been listening. With simple waiving of a state power, he’s removed one of the many targets on which his government is vulnerable.

On Lateline last night, Howard singled out NSW as the state that’s responsible for “a lot” of water over-allocation, more so than the others, which also means it will be the most expensive state to fix by buying back that over-allocation. Thankyou John Howard, Premier Dilemma must have breathed.

The politics for Howard are easy – he’s suddenly seen to be doing something and talking tough about a core green issue. As for cost, the vague $10 billion figure will be spread over any number of years so that in the context of the fat Federal budget, it’s rather painless.

And that core rural constituency must be looking forward to being paid for rights to water that doesn’t exist anyway.

Meanwhile, at the other end of core NSW water issues – Sydney Harbour waterfront property – the SMH is stalking the intriguingly-connected minister Joe Tripodi on his kindness towards the waterfront brigade.

There’s not much waterfront in the Waterways Minister’s Fairfield electorate, but the SMH reports Tripodi knows how to throw a mate a helpful line, twice calling to heel the NSW Maritime Authority when it was being difficult about where businessman Adrian Mastronardo parked his boat.

I’m sure there is absolutely no connection between that and Mr Mastronardo’s companies reportedly donating more than $13,000 to Tripodi’s last election campaign.

Peter Fray

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