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Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2266


Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (14:19): My question is to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Thanks to Senator Patrick's order for the production of documents, we now know that the federal government paid more than twice the market price for water buybacks in the Warrego catchment, paying $1,600 a megalitre versus payment of around $720 a megalitre for similar licences in the same region. Can the minister explain why more than twice the commercial rate was paid and why the independent valuations were redacted? Is the minister aware of any relationships or friendships or conflicts of interest between the beneficiaries of the water buybacks in the Warrego catchment and the former or current minister for water resources?

Mr LITTLEPROUD (MaranoaMinister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (14:20): I thank the honourable member for her question, because the Warrego River in fact lies in my electorate, and I do know the proponents, as you would in a small community of Cunnamulla of only 800 people. It is quite obvious. Let me say around the pricing that was put in place, it is always at arm's length from the government. In fact, I was not even the minister when those negotiations took place. So if you're here to try and character assassinate me in some cheap attempt to score some political points in South Australia, well, you destroyed the Basin Plan, along with the Labor Party! This was their plan. This was their review.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs is warned!

Mr LITTLEPROUD: They are destroying the livelihoods of two million Australians up and down the Murray-Darling Basin, because they are worried about Jay Weatherill and Nick Xenophon getting a vote. That's what it comes down to—pure politics. It's pure politics by the Australian Labor Party and now Nick Xenophon and the NXT. It's nothing more than a cold, callous political machine that both of you have turned into. You are destroying the livelihoods of those people, and you should hang your heads in shame.