Water register ‘terrifies’ Nats
Tuesday, 10th March, 2020
By Craig Brealey
The tactics being employed by the NSW Government to delay the establishment of a register of water owners showed how scared it was, MP Helen Dalton said yesterday.
Mrs Dalton’s bill for the register went before parliament on February 27 and the government was obstructing its progress by deliberately wasting parliament’s time, said the Member for Orange.
“Last week, another unrelated bill was introduced and they’re talking it to death,” she said.
“It’s going on and on and on because the Nationals are terrified of a national water register and they’ll do anything to stop it.
“Democracy in New South Wales is not very democratic.
“I introduced the bill before Christmas so there’s only five weeks to go before it lapses.
“I may reintroduce it or take it to the Upper House where there are fewer Nationals so that it will have a better chance of being passed.”
The endless government chatter was also being used to delay local MP Roy Butler’s bill that proposes giving parliament the say on state water policy as it relates to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, said Mrs Dalton.
That policy is now decided by the Premier alone.
“Gladys Berejiklian goes to MINCO (the ministerial council meetings of Basin states) and signs us up,” Mrs Dalton said.
On the day the bill and a petition containing 11,000 signatures calling for a federal Royal Commission inquiry into the Murray-Darling Basin were put to parliament, a National MP lodged a complaint against Mrs Dalton in a bid to stop them.
The anonymous MP said that Mrs Dalton, as a holder of water entitlements, which she was the first to declare, had a conflict of interest because she could profit from selling her entitlements.
On Friday last week the Speaker of the NSW Parliament found that there was no precedent to uphold the complaint.
“I don’t have a case to answer, so I will not be investigated,” Mrs Dalton said.
“The register needs to go ahead because we need to expose all the secret water holders in Parliament.
“This is making many politicians and their corporate donors very nervous, so I know I’m on the right track and it encourages me to keep going.”
The federal government last week dismissed the latest demand for a Royal Commission.