Senate debates

Tuesday, 5 December 2017


Murray-Darling Basin Plan

3:55 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I, and at the request of Senators Wong, Farrell and Gallagher move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

  (i) before his resignation, the Honourable Barnaby Joyce was the Turnbull Government's Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, and

  (ii) the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources has authority over the function of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan;

(b) further notes that, in his time as the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, former Minister Joyce:

  (i) dismissed the suggestion that the Commonwealth investigate allegations of water theft as broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Four Corners program,

  (ii) instead described those allegations as a conspiracy to 'take more water' from irrigators in an effort to 'shut more of your towns down',

  (iii) suggested that allegations that irrigators in New South Wales have undermined the Murray-Darling Basin Plan were an issue for New South Wales only, as 'the people who live around where that water may have been taken live all in New South Wales',

  (iv) indicated that the reason he held the responsibility for the water portfolio was to "make sure we don't have greenies running the show",

  (v) stated that the decision to incorporate the water portfolio into the broader agriculture portfolio was to 'look after' irrigator communities in New South Wales, and

  (vi) suggested the allegations were broadcast by Four Corners out of sympathy for 'radical greens organisations';

(c) acknowledges that the Australian taxpayer has bought billions of litres of water back under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, giving all Australians, in every state and territory, an interest in ensuring this water is used for its stated purpose;

(d) recognises that bestowing on a single minister responsibility for both agriculture and water creates a conflict of interest; and

(e) calls on the Government to split the portfolios of water and agriculture and to not return the responsibility for water to former Minister Joyce.


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