CASH FOR WATER: Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has urged all Premiers to take up the funding offer.

CASH FOR WATER: Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has urged all Premiers to take up the funding offer.

Water money on offer, but not a cent came out of last $2 billion fund

Water infrastructure money on offer, but not a cent came out of last $2-billion fund

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There is money on the table for water projects, but Labor says the government has been forced to make up for lost time, after not a cent was handed out from a four-year, $2 billion fund.

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The Deputy Prime Minister has written to every state and territory Premier, urging them to put their hands out for the billions of dollars on offer for water infrastructure developments.

However, Labor says the government has been forced to make up for lost time, after it was revealed not a cent was handed out from a $2 billion loan program for water projects over four years.

The government has since rolled the unused money into the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, taking the fund from $1.5 billion to $3.5 billion.

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Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack said it was "time to put the politics aside" and get everyone working towards the same goal - building more dams, pipelines and weirs.

"We can't build water infrastructure without states being on the journey with us, and we really want them to do just that," Mr McCormack said.

"There have been a number of water projects that we have invested in conjunction with the states, but there's also a lot of protects which really now need to take that next step."

However, Labor's water spokesperson Terri Butler said the government was inept at water policy, pointing to revelations about the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility at the recent Senate estimates, which failed to dish out any money over four years.

"They announced the loans facility in 2016 and claimed at the time it would be a catalyst for investment in dams and water infrastructure," Ms Butler said.

"They banged on about it for four years. They released 50 different press releases about it, and they haven't written a single loan out of it.

"At the recent budget they took it out the back and shot it. It was a failed program."

The unused money from the scrapped loan program was rolled into the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and will instead be used as grants, $567 million of which has been committed to upgrades for Dungowan and Wyangala dams.

"It should have been grants from day one - they didn't listen to the feedback that no one wanted loans," Ms Butler said.

"Now they've belatedly put money in to an infrastructure grant fund and now hopefully this will finally unlock something that should have been available the whole time."

Mr McCormack said there were "many and varied reasons" why much of the money on offer hadn't been dished out yet, but "now it's time to draw a line in the sand".

"Let's put what's happened in the past behind us and move forward, let's actually just dig some holes and push some dirt around," he said.

"If this is successful, we can point to projects that are making a difference and fight for more [funding], and the Prime Minister shares that view."

However, Ms Butler said the public "should be sceptical about their promises".

"They're always about the photo-op and never about the follow up," she said.

"They promised to build 100 dams [in 2013] and haven't built any in eight years. Emu Swamp [near Stanthorpe] is the only one they can point to and that's not even off the ground yet."

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