Press Releases


Stephanie Ryan - Tuesday, November 02, 2010
John Brumby is pouring billions of dollars down the drain while billions of litres of water run
unchecked out to sea.

Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Leader of The Nationals Peter
Ryan said heavy rain at the weekend was further proof that the north-south pipeline and the
Wonthaggi desalination plant were never needed.

“Melbourne’s storages have risen to more than 50 per cent and flood alerts have been issued
for the Yarra River,” Mr Ryan said.

“While billions of litres of water go flooding out to sea John Brumby is wasting billions of
taxpayers’ dollars on massive infrastructure projects.

“Labor has desperately tried to sell the north-south pipeline and the Wonthaggi desalination
plant to Victorians as a necessary source of ‘non-rainfall dependent’ water.

“We need to address the challenges of a changing climate by using rain where it falls and
meeting Melbourne’s water needs by substituting the drinking water used on our parks and
gardens with stormwater harvested from Melbourne’s streets.

“It’s sustainable, good for the environment and it secures a long-term supply of water in our

“Instead of investing in stormwater harvesting and recycling, Labor has locked Victorians into
an expensive and energy-intensive desalination plant.”

Mr Ryan said Victorian families could face water bills of up to $2000 a year to pay for John
Brumby’s mismanagement and waste.

“The Auditor-General has told us Melbourne water users will pay $650 million every year for
the life of the Wonthaggi desalination plant contract – even if the plant never delivers a single
drop of water,” Mr Ryan said.

“John Brumby has bungled the delivery of water infrastructure, just like he has bungled myki,
smart meters and the rollout of HealthSmart.

“At a time when cost of living pressures are uppermost in the minds of struggling Victorian
families, the energy consumption of this massive facility will be a huge drain on our state’s
power generation.

“Victorians will be paying for the incompetence of this government for years and years to
come,” Mr Ryan said.


Stephanie Ryan - Friday, September 17, 2010
Melbourne water users will pay $570 million every year to the consortium managing the Wonthaggi desalination plant, irrespective of whether the plant delivers any water.

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Development Peter Ryan said the annual security payments came to light after the DSE tabled its annual report in Parliament yesterday.

“John Brumby has hidden the true cost of this unnecessary project from Victorians,” Mr Ryan said.

“John Brumby has signed up every household and business in Melbourne to massive costs.

“These payments are locked in. The fact of whether the water is actually supplied through the desalination plant is irrelevant.

“This is a staggering amount of money – enough to build a new Bendigo Hospital or employ 1700 new police each and every year.”

Mr Ryan said in 2006 the Victorian Liberals proposed to build a small desalination plant as a last resort for Melbourne.

“The Labor Government sat on its hands for more than seven years and did next to nothing to augment Melbourne’s water supplies, while pressuring Melburnians to cut residential and business water usage,” Mr Ryan said.

“Labor rejected the plan to build a desalination plant a third of the size of this one before backflipping in 2007 and committing ratepayers to the largest desalination plant in the world after Melbourne came perilously close to running out of water.

“Water users are the ones who will now pay for the Brumby Government’s gross incompetence and its failure to invest in long-term stormwater harvesting and recycling.

“John Brumby must come clean. He has consistently refused to tell Victorians the magnitude of what he has done.

“After years of deceit now is the time to be honest with Victorians,” Mr Ryan said.


Stephanie Ryan - Thursday, September 16, 2010

Victorian families are paying billions of dollars to fund extravagant water projects that were never needed, Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Development Peter Ryan said today.

Mr Ryan said with recent rains pushing Melbourne’s storages over 45 per cent, John Brumby’s major water projects had had a negligible impact on Melbourne’s water supplies.

“Melbourne never needed the world’s largest desalination plant at a cost now estimated by the Auditor-General at $5.7 billion or a $750 million pipeline,” Mr Ryan said.

“While the state’s dams fill, these extravagant and unnecessary projects are costing families billions of dollars.

“In Question Time today John Brumby conceded that he has signed water consumers up to pay the consortium building the desalination plant an annual security payment, irrespective of whether the plant delivers water.

The Premier’s concession confirms AquaSure chairwoman Chloe Munro’s statement before a parliamentary committee that the payment ‘recognises that the plant is being maintained to be in a condition capable of delivering water at any time’.

“The north-south pipeline and the Wonthaggi desalination plant were a kneejerk reaction from a panicked government,” Mr Ryan said.

“Melbourne’s water crisis was created by years of inaction and the government’s failure to take responsible, long-term action to secure the city’s water supplies.”

Mr Ryan said in an effort to prove the wisdom of committing $750 million of taxpayers’ money without proper costings or a business case, John Brumby now claimed the north-south pipeline was vital to boosting Melbourne’s water supplies and reducing water restrictions.

“John Brumby’s claim that the pipeline is helping Victorians is blatantly untrue,” Mr Ryan said.

“Melbourne’s storages are at 45.4 per cent and are holding 277 billion litres more than they were the same time last year.

“The vast majority of that water is the result of improved rainfall. The total amount of water delivered by the north-south pipeline since it opened seven months ago is just 23.5 billion litres.”

Mr Ryan said John Brumby had deliberately distorted the facts to justify the north-south pipeline and the Wonthaggi desalination plant.

“The former secretary of the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) admitted to the Auditor-General that the government created the need to invest in these projects by using selective data,” Mr Ryan said.

“He admitted that the need to invest in the north-south pipeline would not have been established if the government had used figures collected over a longer and more representative period of time.

“The government is now desperate to make Victorians believe the pipeline is responsible for the easing of water restrictions because it doesn’t want voters to know it wasted $750 million on a monumental white elephant.”
Mr Ryan said water customers would not be picking up the tab for unnecessary projects if John Brumby had made a sensible, long-term investment in stormwater capture and recycling projects to secure Melbourne’s water supplies.

“Water users are paying nearly 90 per cent of the cost of John Brumby’s unnecessary water infrastructure projects,” Mr Ryan said.

“By July 2012, water costs for the average household in Yarra Valley Water’s region will have increased by 79.3 per cent in just four years to help pay for the north-south pipeline and the Wonthaggi desalination plant.

“Water bills for South East Water and City West Water customers will also rise by more than 65 per cent over the next four years.

“The majority of water bills are made up of fixed charges rather than consumption charges, locking water users into paying huge bills irrespective of their efforts to reduce water usage.

“While our dams steadily fill and parts of the state are submerged by flood waters, John Brumby is forcing families to pay for these costly and unnecessary projects,” Mr Ryan said.


Stephanie Ryan - Monday, March 15, 2010
Member for Gippsland South and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan has demanded the Brumby Government explain why it has authorised a multinational consortium to spy on local residents protesting against the Wonthaggi desalination plant.

Mr Ryan said revelations John Brumby had employed police, private security firms and international consortium AquaSure to spy on Gippsland residents were deeply concerning.

“The Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition obtained a section of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between AquaSure, Victoria Police and the Brumby Government which shows the government has been spying on protestors,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Brumby Government has given AquaSure, a private multinational consortium, the green light to gather intelligence on desalination protestors.

“This is intimidation and bullying at its worst and exposes the culture of thuggery within John Brumby’s Government.
“Any information gathered on protestors by the government or private security firms must be destroyed.

“Local communities have a right to be very concerned about the way this information has been collected, how it has been stored and how it will be used.”

Mr Ryan said Gippsland residents had been targeted by the Brumby Government’s surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations simply because they had dared to disagree with government policy.

“The MOU floats the idea of AquaSure, the police and the Department of Sustainability and Environment carrying out a joint operation on people who have been identified through intelligence ‘to be involved in organising or conducting protest action’.

“It even sanctions the involvement of Victoria Police’s frontline anti-terrorism unit, the Protective Security Intelligence Group, and shows the Brumby Government has a strategy to gather intelligence on protesters before demonstrations have taken place.

“There’s something very wrong in Victoria when local communities are subject to this sort of bullying and intimidation from a government.” Mr Ryan said.


Stephanie Ryan - Friday, December 11, 2009
The Brumby Government’s attempt to cover up the existence of Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) sanctioning the release of the personal information of Victorians to private companies has been a sorry and chaotic saga of confusion and contradiction.

Shadow Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan said today that Victorians must know how many MOUs exist which allow police to pass on the personal details of Victorians to companies involved in major projects, including the desalination plant and the north-south pipeline.

“The bumbling and fumbling response of Victoria’s worst-ever Minister for Police Bob Cameron and Premier John Brumby shows Labor wants to keep these MOUs secret,” Mr Ryan said.

“John Brumby cannot be trusted to protect the private details of Victorians.

“The contradictory responses by senior police have added to the confusion.

“John Brumby should come clean with Victorians and release all MOUs allowing police to pass on the private details of Victorians to private companies,” Mr Ryan said.

A list of the week’s chaotic contradictions includes:

MOUs: OK to release or not?

“There’s a public list available of the MOUs and I’m happy to make that available to you.”

- Chief Commissioner Simon Overland, press conference, 12 noon, 10 December 2009

“He (Overland) has received subsequent legal advice relating to privacy issues and other sensitivities within the document which means that we will not be in a position to release it after all.”

- Statement released by Simon Overland’s office, 2pm 10 December 2009

“We’ve advised the journalists if they want it they need to put in an FoI request. We can consider it, we can excise those parts that are either privacy-sensitive or we can’t release, and they can have the rest of it. So, I’m just following the law”.

- Simon Overland, 3AW News, 8:30am 11 December 2009

Data security clause: in or out?

“Well, there are other MOUs in place, ah, and … that I’m aware of, but they do not have the data security clause because there is no requirement for the sharing of data under those MOUs.”

- Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Kieran Walshe, ABC 774, 9 December 2009

“So there’s a whole range of MOUs that we put in place as a matter of course. Some of them will have the same clause and some of them don’t.”

- Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland press conference, 10 December 2009

Video footage held by police: sent to private companies or not?

"Couldn’t be clearer, Speaker. There is no intention whatsoever to provide video images or individuals’ names and addresses et cetera to AquaSure or to anybody else."

- John Brumby, Legislative Assembly, 9 December 2009

"Well the nature of the information that would be handed over is this sort of information Neil. It’s things like a video that Victoria Police might have in their possession which would show the tactics being employed by the … by protesters, in a particular instance."

- Tim Holding, 3AW Neil Mitchell program, 7 December 2009

MOUs: routine or not?

“Victoria Police last night said it was routine for police to sign such deals with organisations building big public projects where there were potential security risks.”

- The Age, 5 December 2009

“Look, really, this is not an extraordinary thing.”

- Tim Holding, 3AW Neil Mitchell program, 7 December 2009

“This is a matter that I was not aware of until this morning … this is a very poorly-constructed MOU … I don’t agree with how it’s been written.”

- Kieran Walshe, 3AW Neil Mitchell program, 7 December 2009

Do privacy laws override MOU or not?

"Speaker I think we need to get one thing very clear at the very outset, and that is that the privacy laws and the Police Regulation Act apply and they do not override any Memorandum of Understanding."

- Victoria’s worst-ever Minister for Police Bob Cameron, Legislative Assembly, 8 December 2009

"So Speaker as I was saying, the Privacy Act and the Police Regulation Act do not override Memorandum of Understanding."

- Victoria’s worst-ever Minister for Police Bob Cameron, Legislative Assembly, 8 December 2009

"In fact Neil under the Privacy Act that information is protected from release, under this Memorandum of Understanding, that legislation overrides any Memorandum of Understanding that’s reached."

- Tim Holding, 3AW Neil Mitchell program, 7 December 2009


Stephanie Ryan - Sunday, October 11, 2009
The Brumby Government has been caught out using taxpayer funds to drive its own political agenda in an attempt to avoid blame over its failure to act on Melbourne’s water shortages, Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.

Mr Ryan said Freedom of Information documents obtained by the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition showed a panicked Labor Government’s true intention behind its 2007 Wonthaggi Desalination Plant advertising campaign.

“These documents show that Labor splurged $1.5 million dollars of taxpayer money on a brazen spin campaign to cover up its failure to augment Melbourne’s water supplies, with the government’s project brief instructing bidders for the lucrative contract to portray Labor in a positive light,” Mr Ryan said.

The project brief, which was prepared by the government and provided to six advertising agencies, stated:

“Melburnians believe that water restrictions … represent a shared adversity on a par with the sacrifices of wartime or natural disaster”

“The Government needs to be seen to be responsive … A serious tone is needed to convey the underpinning thought ‘they know what they are doing’.”

Mr Ryan said the embarrassing FOI documents also revealed:

• The winning bidder’s proposal would make the Premier’s every word as always being heard strongly and clearly, while still allowing the sound of the helicopter: “The exciting thing about a helicopter is the vibrant nature of the sound ¬– loud, fast and full … like the film ‘Apocalypse Now’.”

“Labor has blurred the lines on what is acceptable in government advertising, with guidelines stating public funds should not be used to promote government members ‘in a manner that a reasonable person would regard as excessive or gratuitous’,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the government’s desired objective to cover up its failures was obvious, and was outlined in the proposal of winning bidder Shannon’s Way.

“The unique expertise of Shannon’s Way in both political and water campaigns has taught us many lessons about what to say and how to say it.” (Shannon’s Way Desalination advertising campaign project bid)

“After years of inaction and a failure to develop adequate infrastructure to secure Melbourne’s water needs the Labor Government is clearly more focused on paying for a political campaign than on fixing Melbourne’s water shortage,” Mr Ryan said.

“These documents prove conclusively that the Labor Government has never given realistic consideration to supplementing Melbourne’s water needs through such means as harvesting stormwater for use on parks and gardens.

“Labor thinks it is easier to loot 144 billion litres of water during the past three years from the state’s ailing river systems than to develop sensible solutions,” Mr Ryan said.

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