MARK BUTLER MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY, MEMBER FOR PORT ADELAIDE : Well Nick Xenophon and his political party this week found themselves in a position of real potential influence in the senate and true to form Nick Xenophon talked his position up pretty strongly, pretty far and pretty wide. He assured people that he would make the ABCC bill fairer for construction workers and very importantly he assured South Australians that he would protect South Australia and the River Murray from attacks from Barnaby Joyce. Barnaby Joyce who has made it increasingly clear over the last couple weeks that he intends to tear up significant elements of the Murray Darling Basin plan.
But when it came to the crunch, the only winner after a week of posturing and chest beating by Nick Xenophon is Malcolm Turnbull. Nick Xenophon has now made it clear he intends to deliver to Malcolm Turnbull; Turnbull’s attacks on construction workers, attacks began three years ago by Tony Abbott. And, importantly while South Australians needed a guarantee of more water into the river, all they have got is more talk. So after a week of posturing, South Australians are very entitled to feel deeply disappointed by Nick Xenophon. After a week of chest beating, after talking the big talk he’s clearly been out played by Malcolm Turnbull in the last 48 hours and he’s sold out both South Australia and the health of the River Murray.
JOURNALIST: Has Senator Xenophon squibbed it?
BUTLER: He’s absolutely squibbed it. He’s talked the big talk over the weekend that he would not be voting for any legislation of the Government’s including the ABCC legislation unless there was a firm guarantee that this Government would implement the Murray Darling Basin plan in full. Yet yesterday again, we had the Deputy Prime Minister, the minister with responsibility for delivering the plan say there’s not a chance in Hades that they would deliver the extra 450gl needed for the river to stay healthy.
JOURNALIST: Beyond this, what does it say to Senator Xenophon’s approach to legislation – is he more about the tactics then the result?
BUTLER: Well the reason for Xenophon being a political party is to use his influence in the senate to deliver outcomes for the state of South Australia. And at a point in time when he finally had the opportunity to do that he squibbed. He got out played by Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce and in spite of talking the big talk he’s delivered nothing to South Australia in the Murray Darling Basin plan except yet more talk.
JOURNALIST: But what do you make of these procurements rules for the Commonwealth that he’s managed to get over the line? Are you happy with those?
BUTLER: Well Labor’s welcomed the new procurement rules but what Nick Xenophon said was an absolute condition for his support of any legislation this week put forth by the Government, was a guarantee that the Murray Darling Basin plan would be delivered in full. Yet yesterday we had the Deputy Prime Minister again in question time saying there was no commitment to the 450gl, he would not guarantee that the money that is set aside to deliver that water would not be delivered up to Treasury as a budget cut and suddenly Senator Xenophon thinks that another talk fest, another set of discussions between the Prime Minister and him and the states is a guarantee. It’s simply not a guarantee, he sold out South Australia and most importantly he sold out the health of our most important river system.
JOURNALIST: What do you think of Peter Dutton’s comments regarding asylum seekers in Nauru reconnecting with their families if they are resettled in the United States.
BUTLER: Look I haven’t seen those comments but I think the reports this morning shows that this is still a shambles. For more than three years now this Government has been unable to reach a decent resettlement arrangement for the hundreds of people who are languishing on Manus Island and Nauru. And the reports this morning indicate again that the big talk by Peter Dutton has been massively overblown. Thanks very much.