National

PM denies politicising natural disasters

By AAP Newswire

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected accusations he's politicising natural disasters, after linking battling bushfires to his economic policy.

Queensland coalition MP Llew O'Brien used parliament's question time on Monday to lob a "dorothy dixer" to Mr Morrison.

He asked how a "strong budget guarantees the essential services Australians rely on, especially in times of need including residents of my electorate who have been affected by bushfires".

The prime minister was quick to boast about the government's projected budget surplus, saying it was vital in order to respond to natural disasters, before suggesting Labor wanted to do the opposite.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese interjected, attempting to stop Mr Morrison in his tracks on a point of "decency".

"We should not politicise natural disasters," he told the chamber.

Mr Morrison rejected the accusation.

"I am pointing out very clearly, in order to be able to respond, you must be able to make sure government maintains a strong financial position," he said.

Earlier, deputy prime minister Michael McCormack came out swinging against environmental impact studies getting in the way of building dams and major projects.

"You'll always get some environmentalist who will find a frog or something to roadblock a dam," he told ABC Radio.

State and federal National Party politicians are ramping up calls to fast-track the planning process for dam construction, as parts of regional NSW rapidly run out of water due to the ongoing drought.

Rural dams across NSW have fallen to an average of 33 per cent full, while major regional and metropolitan dams are sitting at 49 per cent.

Dubbo could run out of water as soon as November and a handful of other NSW towns could run out early next year.

Mr McCormack wants to build more than a dozen new dams across Australia.

He believes it is time to be "more sensible, more practical" about environmental studies.

"You have to do some environmental impact studies, of course you do, but let's be reasonable about this," Mr McCormack said.

"The nation needs water infrastructure, people need drinking water, irrigators need to grow food and fibre."

The Morrison government is spending $100 million to establish a National Water Grid Authority to oversee the construction of new dams.

Even still, Mr Albanese has accused the coalition of being all talk and no action on water, saying they had not built a single dam during its six years in power.

"The first thing we need to do is to actually have a drought strategy. We need to look at mitigation and we need to provide support for farmers," he said.