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Dodgy water deals done at double the price highlight need for Royal Commission

Media Release
Sarah Hanson-Young 20 Jan 2020

The Australia Institute analysis released today showing the Federal Government paid exorbitant prices for water rights to a company linked to Minister Angus Taylor is further evidence of the need for a Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the Greens say.


In April 2018, Greens Spokesperson for Water Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, referred allegations that the Department of Agriculture significantly overpaid vendors for water in the Warrego catchment, Tandou and the Condamine-Balonne Valley to the Auditor-General for investigation. In April last year, Senator Hanson-Young asked the Auditor-General to audit all water purchases signed off by former Water Minister Barnaby Joyce. 


Senator Hanson-Young said she would be drawing the Auditor-General’s attention to the latest documents showing the Department had rejected offers made by Eastern Australia Agriculture for water rights in the Condamine-Balonne valley many times on the basis they were ‘not value for money’ before ultimately paying almost double the price EAA had offered.


“This is further proof these were dodgy deals and exactly why I referred the procurement of water rights to the Auditor-General,” she said.


"The Federal Government has refused to release independent valuations of water rights, companies involved are allegedly linked to Energy Minister Angus Taylor, and taxpayers footed an $80m bill for water that’s never been seen. Then-Water Minister Barnaby Joyce has some explaining to do, the whole thing stinks.


“The Murray-Darling Basin has been riddled with dodgy accounting, mismanagement, and out-right water theft, and it looks more and more like it’s just another slush fund for the National Party and their corporate irrigator mates.


“These scandals aren’t going to go away and the more we find out the worse the story gets. The LNP’s management of the MDB has been woeful from the beginning. 


“We need a Royal Commission to get to the bottom of these scandals and I urge all sides of politics to back my bill to establish one. 


“Corporate greed and the climate emergency have pushed our biggest river system into drought which is having devastating impacts on river communities and the environment. Getting to the bottom of what’s gone so wrong for the MDB is the least we can do right now to give such a precious water resource a chance of survival.” 

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