Basin Plan

‘Death certificate’: Ex-water chief slams Barnaby Joyce’s drought plan

28 August 2018

Peter Hannam, The Sydney Morning Herald
28 August 2018

Diverting water earmarked for the environment to help drought-hit farmers would “absolutely” breach the federal Water Act, says David Papps, the former head of the Commonwealth Environment Water Office.

Mr Papps was responding to Barnaby Joyce, the former Nationals leader and special drought envoy under the Morrison government, who said such diversions were needed to address a “national emergency” as the big dry spreads.

“We have billions of dollars worth of water in the Commonwealth Water Holder’s accounts,” Mr Joyce told ABC’s Radio National on Tuesday. “If we diverted a section of it, we could start growing the fodder [such as lucerne] that is required to keep the stock alive.”

Mr Joyce’s comments were rounded on by federal Labor and the Greens, and by former water officials.

Mr Papps said the Commonwealth Water Holder had $3 billion to $4 billion worth of water “paid for by the taxpayer”. The Water Act – introduced by then environment minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2007 – was deliberately designed to ensure politicians¬†“were not in charge of environmental water”.

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