House debates

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Questions without Notice

Murray-Darling Basin

2:41 pm

Photo of Terri ButlerTerri Butler (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister. National Party amendments before the Senate right now block the additional 450 billion litres allocated for the health of the Murray-Darling Basin. After only a day in the job, why is the Deputy Prime Minister's first priority attacking the health of the rivers and the regional communities that depend on them by shredding the Murray-Darling Basin Plan?

2:42 pm

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for her question, and note the process that was facilitated to bring about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. At the time, myself and the then minister, the member for Watson, had a choice between working together or the Labor Party working with the Greens, which would have brought a disastrous outcome for people on the river.

What we also note is that that was a section on the 450. Whilst I was the minister, I worked with that proposition. But I understand completely the concerns that are held. I was only recently talking to the member for Nicholls about the issues that are so important to those towns, including that we show them security too. There is an issue here that people are worried about the security of the river, but they're also worried about the security of their jobs. Jobs are so vitally important, if we are to show these people that we care for them in the regional towns. And it's not just farmers. It is the hairdressers. It is the tyre shops. It is the grocery shops. It's the people who live in the member for Mallee's seat. It's the people who live in the member for Nicholls's seat. It's the people who live in the member for Farrer's seat. It's the people who live in the Riverina, the member for Riverina's seat. We have an obligation to these people as well, to make sure that they are not forgotten in Canberra.

What I see, from our colleagues in the Senate, is they are making sure that these people know that the Nationals are hearing them, and are making sure that they are doing their very best to show that their jobs in these regional towns are just as important as the jobs in Adelaide, just as important as the jobs in Sydney. Because it's these people who have gone out to Mildura, who have gone out to Wagga, who have gone out to Griffith, who have gone to these places where other people won't go—these are the people putting product on the boats, and feeding our nation. They are feeding our nation in such a way that we can have the standard of living that we have here today. Although we might not see them, we respect absolutely the job they do.

So, if you're asking me why the Nationals in the Senate are making sure that these people understand that we hear them and respect their views, that is because that is what the Nationals' job is.