Australian opposition offers voters $1bn water sweetener

Kevin Rudd, leader of Australia's Labor party, has pledged to spend an extra $1bn on securing water supplies for the country's major cities if his party is elected.

Water, water everywhere? Although situated on the banks of the Swan River, Perth is feeling the bite of Australia's water shortages

Water, water everywhere? Although situated on the banks of the Swan River, Perth is feeling the bite of Australia's water shortages

The $1bn (£450m) National Urban Water & Desalination Plan would be spent on desalination, water recycling and stormwater capture projects across the country.

The cash would be used to part-fund projects developed by the private sector, local authorities and state governments.

Further funds would be earmarked for a Centre of Excellence in Desalination in Perth and a Centre of Excellence in Water Recycling in Brisbane, the two cities which are currently the leaders in their field within Australia.

The Conservative government has previously stated that it believes water security is an issue for state governments, not the federal budget.

But in a move that is likely to appeal to voters in a country facing a looming water crisis, Mr Rudd has promised a national approach to ensuring supply.

According to the Labor leader, a significant increase in the capacity and scale of Australia's urban water infrastructure is the only way to secure the water supply for our major cities and growth corridors.

"Australia needs a national approach to building more desalination plants and invest more in water recycling, and storm water capture infrastructure in our major cities if we are to lock in our future water supply," said a statement from the party.

"Increasing water supply, through demand and supply management by governments, businesses, and households, and accelerating water projects could help ease water restrictions and reduce price pressures over a number of years."

Australia is in the grip of a water crisis as a result of the worst drought in more than 100 years. Australia's major cities are already experiencing water shortages with storage levels falling to less than 50% of their capacities. In some cases, they are as low as 20%.

Sam Bond

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