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15    Administration— Water portfolio responsibility

Senator Hanson-Young, also on behalf of Senators Wong, Farrell and Gallacher, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 641—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 that 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.

Senator Patrick, by leave, moved the following amendment:

Paragraph (e), omit “and to not return the responsibility for water to former Minister Joyce”.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and passed.

Statements by leave : The Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister (Senator McGrath) and Senators Chisholm and Hanson-Young, by leave, made statements relating to the motion.

Leave refused : Senator O’Sullivan sought leave to make a statement relating to the motion. An objection was raised and leave was not granted.

Main question, as amended, put.

The Senate divided—

AYES, 29

Senators—

Bartlett

Farrell

Lines

Rice

Bernardi

Georgiou

McAllister

Siewert

Burston

Griff

McCarthy

Steele-John

Carr

Hanson-Young

McKim

Sterle

Chisholm

Hinch

Moore

Urquhart*

Collins

Ketter

Patrick

Watt

Dastyari

Kitching

Rhiannon

Whish-Wilson

Di Natale

 

 

 

NOES, 22

Senators—

Abetz

Fawcett

McGrath

Reynolds

Anning

Fierravanti-Wells

McKenzie

Ruston

Brockman

Fifield

O’Sullivan

Ryan

Bushby*

Hume

Paterson

Seselja

Cash

Leyonhjelm

Payne

Smith

Duniam

Macdonald

 

* Tellers

Question agreed to.