News PM: Shorten is flinging Murray-Darling mud over buyback
Updated:

PM: Shorten is flinging Murray-Darling mud over buyback

Questions have been raised about the Coalition government's $80million Murray-Darling water buyback scheme. Photo: AAP
Share
Tweet Share Reddit Pin Email

Federal Labor is demanding to know whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison is confident that $80 million worth of water purchases under the Murray-Darling Basin plan are above board.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten on the election campaign trail in Melbourne said this was the nation’s most expensive water purchase but questions have been raised over its probity.

“Our river system is stuffed – and it is stuffed because this is a government who hasn’t had a plan to look after the whole of the river basin,” Mr Shorten told reporters.

“It has played favourites. It has pursued particular commercial agenda and as a result, Australia’s mighty Murray-Darling is on the critical list.”

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young is writing to the Auditor General requesting an urgent audit into all purchases signed off by former minister Barnaby Joyce.

“The Auditor has a responsibility to investigate how $80 million of taxpayers money was paid for water that doesn’t exist,” the senator tweeted on Saturday.

“We need a Royal Commission. #watergate”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused his Labor rival Bill Shorten of “throwing mud” by dredging up questions over $80 million worth of water purchases under the Murray-Darling Basin plan.

Mr Morrison said there has already been a Senate inquiry into the matter and the government had provided documents regarding those transactions.

“So, that strikes me there is a high level of transparency,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

He said this is what the Labor leader does when he gets desperate and can’t answer questions about his own policies.

“He starts throwing mud around. This is what Bill Shorten does.”

A Liberal campaign spokesman for the 2019 election, Senator Simon Birmingham, said a royal commission is not necessary.

He said a 2020 review is already legislated under the the Murray-Darlling Basin plan.

“So that review will take place next year as is already required,” Senator Birmingham told ABC television.

On the size of the $80 million purchase in question, Senator Birmingham explained as the drought hit, there has been increasing volumes of water purchased and “unsurprisingly” prices have gone up.

“It is not a surprise in the last couple of years you would be paying more for water licences in a condition where the market has tightened and the availability of water is less,” he said.But Liberal campaign spokesman for the 2019 election Simon Birmingham said a royal commission is not necessary.

He said a 2020 review is already legislated under the the Murray-Darling Basin plan.

“So that review will take place next year as is already required,” Senator Birmingham told ABC television.

The $80 million purchase in question is understood to be the largest ever.

Senator Birmingham explained as the drought hit, there has been increasing volumes of water purchased and “unsurprisingly” prices have gone up.

“It is not a surprise in the last couple of years you would be paying more for water licences in a condition where the market has tightened and the availability of water is less,” he said.

-AAP