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Minister must come clean with legal advice

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Senator Barnaby Joyce 

Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water  Leader of the Nationals in the Senate  Senator for Queensland 

Minister must come clean with legal advice 26/10/10

Yesterday Mr Burke released legal advice which he said interpreted the Water Act 2007 as broad enough to accommodate economic, social and environmental factors, despite statements from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority that they had to focus on environmental factors above economic and social factors in developing the Guide to the Basin Plan.

Today, Mr Burke now says that, “The legal advice says that’s open to them. It’s for them as the independent authority to work out where they want to go.”

But, Mike Taylor, the Chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, today says that the MDBA “sought and relied on policy guidance by the Department and close consultation with the Australian Government Solicitor for legal interpretation. The Guide itself was reviewed by the Australian Government Solicitor before it was released.”

“Are you confused yet? Did the Minister know of the Department’s advice to the MDBA? Was the Government aware of this advice before they promised to implement the Basin Plan sight unseen?” said Senator Barnaby Joyce.

“I call on the Minister to remove the confusion and the release all of the legal advice.

The authority has maintained that they did not have the brief to look at the triple bottom line approach.

The people of regional communities deserve better than this. The people of the basin are trying to get on with their lives while the Labor party, the masters of confusion, create needless uncertainty.

I cannot remember when a government has managed to get itself so tangled up in a web of confusion as they have managed to do with the Guide to the proposed Murray Darling Basin plan, but then again, this is Labor we’re talking about.”