"Great river systems die from the mouth up. That's why SA's interest in the Murray is in the national interest."
Let's not beat around the bush on this one. When it comes to water, South Australia is incredibly vulnerable.
Not only are we the driest state on the driest continent, but Australia's greatest river system - the Murray Darling - winds its way from Queensland through NSW and Victoria to the lower lakes in SA. The Lower Lakes have been described as the 'lungs' of the river system, flushing out salt and nutrients essential to maintain the health of the entire river system.
Whenever there is a drought, or over-allocation upstream in the eastern states, South Australia's environment and irrigators can suffer the most. That's why I didn't blink in standing up for South Australia in February 2009.
I make no apology for holding up the Rudd Government's $42billion stimulus package for 24 hours in order to negotiate a better outcome on water -- it wasn't just in SA's interest, it was in the national interest to do the right thing.
With $500million fast-tracked for water buybacks, $200million for drought affected communities, another $200million for much needed storm water harvesting -- the package I negotiated made a real difference.
And given a chance, I'd do it all again.
But much more needs to be done.
I'm furious that South Australian irrigators are only getting a pittance of the Federal Government's $5.8billion fund for water efficiency upgrades. Why? Because SA irrigators are already too water-efficient to qualify.
A $265million fund to kick-start river communities in SA is not moving fast enough. I've already asked questions in Parliament about it and I am not satisfied with the answers.
And when it comes to the environment, long promised works for the Coorong also seem to be stalled.
My job in the Senate is to unambiguously fight for SA's interests on water -- for the environment and our communities -- no ifs, no buts, no fence sitting.