Irrigator group asks for 'immediate action' not talk after Barilaro backs Royal Commission

Ahead of the Speak Up 4 Water petition debate, NSW Nationals leader, John Barilaro, has stated he will support a Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
Ahead of the Speak Up 4 Water petition debate, NSW Nationals leader, John Barilaro, has stated he will support a Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

A petition signed by 11,000 people calling for a Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin Plan and a national water register was debated by the NSW Legislative Assembly this afternoon.

But it was making a waves in the halls of parliament well before it was introduced formally by Member for Murray, Helen Dalton.

Prior to the debate, Ms Dalton said an undisclosed Nationals MP had objected to her voting on the petition on the grounds that she had a conflict of interest.

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Hours later, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro released a statement confirming that the NSW Nationals would support the petition and its calls for a Royal Commission and national water register.

Deputy Premier and Leader of the NSW Nationals John Barilaro and Minister for Water Melinda Pavey stated the petition signed by concerned irrigators represented the undeniable need for greater transparency across the Murray Darling Basin.

"I have made it abundantly clear that when it comes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan our Basin communities need to come first - the plan needs to work for us, not the other way around," Mr Barilaro said.

"Today I have met with some of these irrigators, who are at breaking point, and I confirmed that the NSW Nationals support the petition, to which they are signatories, and calls for a Royal Commission and National Water Register."

However, speaking as part of the parliament debate, Member for Coffs Harbour and Nationals Party member, Gurmesh Singh stressed that NSW already had a water access licences register.

"Searches of the register can be undertaken at a NSW Land Registry Office or through an authorised information broker," Mr Singh said.

He also said while they were working hard to improve transparency in the water market, privacy was taken very seriously by the government.

"In 2018 when amendments were made to the Water Act, submission after submission made it clear that what people don't support is the publication of all the Mum and Dad farmers who are just trying to get their jobs done, growing food and fibre," Mr Singh said.

"We have already done the work to consult with communities and water users to work out what information we can publish without overstepping what is reasonable and fair.

"Balancing the public's right to information with the right to privacy is enshrined in the law."

Following the debate, NSW Irrigators Council released a statement calling on Deputy Premier, John Barilaro to not only support a Royal Commission but to call one.

"Despite the fact that he is the Deputy Premier in the NSW State Government, apparently he doesn't even have the capacity to 'announce a Royal Commission'," their statement read.

NSW Irrigators Council CEO Luke Simpkins said he urged all farmers not pin their hopes on talk, but call for immediate action to fix the delivery of the Plan.

This story NSW Nats back Royal Commission into Murray Darling Basin Plan first appeared on The Land.