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Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Page: 5824


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (15:02): Can I provide some further information in response to a question asked by Senator Gallacher yesterday, on the question of the Murray-Darling Basin and allegations aired on the ABC's Four Corners program on 24 July 2017. The Australian government takes very seriously the allegations aired in the Four Corners program and supports the vast majority of the irrigated agriculture industry that follows the rules. On 30 July 2017, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, on a point of order? Senator Brandis, resume your seat please.

Senator Cameron: I'm not sure if the Attorney's mic is turned on. I can't hear a word of what he's saying.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I think you may have been right. Attorney, do you wish to start again? Please make sure the mic is on.

Senator BRANDIS: I can provide further information in response to a question asked of me yesterday by Senator Gallacher on the Murray-Darling Basin, and allegations aired on the ABC's Four Corners program on 24 July 2017. The Australian government takes very seriously the allegations aired in the Four Corners program, and supports the vast majority of the irrigated agriculture industry follows the rules. On 30 July 2017, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources announced that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority would conduct an independent basin-wide review into compliance with state based regulations governing water use. The government also looks forward to reviewing the outcomes of the independent investigation being carried out by Ken Matthews AO with the assistance of expert investigators who have experience in police and ICAC investigations.

The Deputy Prime Minister has indicated at all times that he takes the allegations of water theft very seriously. These are allegations that obviously need to be investigated. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority will undertake an independent basin-wide review into compliance with state based regulations governing water use. I thank the chamber.