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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 8669

Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) (18:05): I will be very brief—just a message for the minister. The inquiry we have got at the moment on the Murray-Darling Basin is very concerning when you hear from the irrigators. Senator Madigan and Senator Whish-Wilson and others will be well aware—Senator Day as well—that the price of water has been forced up by corporate intervention and dealing, and people can't buy water to finish their crops—

Senator Madigan interjecting

Senator WILLIAMS: by the speculators, thank you, Senator Madigan. I believe even some superannuation funds—is that correct? Super funds buying water? It is crazy.

I just want to make a point to you, Minister Cormann, that when Senator Wong talks about buying and protecting land, don't forget Senator Wong's history of buying land. She has bought a lot of land in our country. She bought 90,000 hectares—Toorale Station for $23 million. I do not think she ever looked at it. I do not think the department ever looked at it. They bought it to run water down the Murray and then paid $700,000 to get the cattle off the property. The problem is that the ring tanks there to hold the water back have a heritage order on them. So, I think, Minister, as you go through this bill, you need not pay much attention to Senator Wong when it comes to the history of farming, the involvement of farmers and the purchase of agricultural land.