Bernardi cries foul over water deal

February 15, 2018

Australian Conservatives leader and South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi has sited corruption concerns within northern New South Wales and southern Queensland reaches of the Murray-Darling Basin as his reason for backing a disallowance motion on the Basin Plan.

The government had sought to revise downwards by 70 gigalitres the amount of water to be recovered in the 'Northern Basin' - in effect, the Darling River reaches which ultimately flow down the Darling to the Murray River in south-western New South Wales.

Today’s The Australian reports the motion to disallow the 70 gigalitre discount passed 32 to 30 with the support of Senator Bernardi and crossbenchers Derryn Hinch and NXT senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff.

Senator Bernardi said he was persuaded to back the disallowance by corruption, misconduct and maladministration allegations surrounding the National Party in New South Wales. All are presently the subject of inquiries which have not yet made public findings.

Senator Bernardi said his judgment had been influenced by a “lack of disclosure” and “wilful misrepresentation of particular points of view by those with vested interests”, including the NSW government and the federal Water Minister.

“To say the entire basin plan is at risk over 70 gigalitres of water, when they are essentially on the hook for ... turning a blind eye, and I would say blatant, outright corruption, is appalling,” Senator Bernardi said.

"I am absolutely proud of what South Australians have done in managing a scarce and precious resource," Senator Bernardi told the Senate last night, "We - and people far more interested, far more energetic, than me - have worked very, very hard in making sure we manage our water rights absolutely well, and we are being let down by what is happening upstream."

He said he shared Labor’s concerns about the National Party being in charge of the water portfolio.

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