Call for for Deputy PM to step aside from Water Ministry

Call for for Deputy PM to step aside from Water Ministry

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has called on the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to step aside as the Water Resources Minister while allegations about “secret” deals between the National Party and large irrigators are investigated.

On her first day back in Canberra after the environmental water theft allegations from the Murray-Darling Basin were aired on the ABC’s Four Corners program last month, Rebekha told Federal Parliament that Australia deserved a full judicial inquiry into the matter.

The NXT representative for the tail end of the Murray said it was untenable to have the Nationals’ Leader in charge of the water portfolio during any investigation, including an inquiry into claims about deals being struck between NSW Nationals and large irrigators.

“I believe that, in light of the allegations, it is only proper that the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce step aside from the Water Resources portfolio, and that the portfolio should not be held by a National Party member until all of the allegations are resolved,” Rebekha said in a speech tonight.

“To do anything less will destroy what little faith downstream communities have left in the regulatory framework that is supposed to uphold a ‘national’ basin plan.

“Fishers at the end of the river system have accused the Deputy Prime Minister of placing his foot on the Coorong’s neck.

“They are petitioning the Prime Minister to remove him from the Water Ministry and they are demanding a full, independent inquiry, into the Four Corners allegations and no cuts to environmental flows.”

Rebekha says only a full judicial inquiry with powers of a Royal Commission will resolve the corruption claims levelled against some NSW Government officials.

“The Nick Xenophon Team welcomes the New South Wales Independent Commission and Corruption inquiry … but it is a small step in comparison to the sheer scale of the allegations,” she said.

“There are indications that the claims aired on Four Corners are but the tip of the iceberg.

“I believe that we can expect similar allegations to come to light across the Basin.

“… Anything short of a full judicial review is just an attempt to sweep these allegations all under the rug.”