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Attack of the tweets

Wednesday, 12th May, 2021

By Emily McInerney

A discussion with a Greens member and barrister has turned into a Twitter fight for Barwon MP, Roy Butler.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann took a swing at Mr Butler on Twitter last week.
“Not impressed that @SffRoy just handed my Greens colleague legal advice commissioned by irrigators that is being used to sway members to vote against the motion to disallow floodplain harvesting,” it read.
Ms Faehrmann believed that Mr Butler was handing out legal advice from NSW irrigators and advocating against the disallowance motion.
Mr Butler responded on Twitter saying; “Not impressed that you have failed to represent what I said to David. Unmetered or unregulated take will hurt my downstream communities. Ask him, I don’t think he will lie”.
Mr Butler told the Barrier Truth after the fact, he had run into Greens MLC David Shoobridge and was speaking with him about the concerns of downstream communities.
He said that he handed the barrister some documents so as to gain a legal view.
“I’m not about having secret backdoor discussions, that’s not the relationships I want to form.
“I wasn’t trying to lobby. It’s not irregular to chat with members of parliament.”
Mr Butler said there is an urgency to get all stakeholders in one room to work out the best plan for the river.
“Metering and cap compliance need to be secured.”
After speaking with the Barrier Truth, Mr Butler also took to Facebook to explain the situation.
“A number of people have spoken on my behalf, a number of people have made assumptions about my actions,” Mr Butler said on Facebook.
“I would like to say from the outset that everything I do in Parliament I do in the best interest of the communities in Barwon.
“I am beholden to no group. Not now, not ever.”
Mr Butler said while the Floodplain Harvesting Regulations were disallowed last week, he didn’t get a vote in regards to it.
“More importantly – no one can amend the regulations.  They can either be allowed or disallowed. There is a limited window for disallowance. Once that passes, no action can be taken by the Parliament.
“The regulations don’t contain end of valley flow targets – that’s a sticking point for downstream communities and the Upper House.
“End of valley flow targets bypass questions around modelling and should be part of Water Sharing Plans. If the rules are right, Government should not be worried about downstream targets.”
Mr Butler said he hasn’t received any legal advice.
“We do not know what will happen. Disallowing does not stop or prevent floodplain harvesting from occurring. The vote is not about banning floodplain harvesting, it is a vote on how it is regulated.
“My concern has been that with no regulation, unmetered take continues, in a way that has limited capacity restrict take. That’s bad for downstream communities.”
Mr Butler said there has also been quite a bit of discussion around his work with the Water Minister, Melinda Pavey.
“Much has been said about my working with the Water Minister. The fact is, the Minister is the only way I can get in place the metering of all forms of take and the ability to have CAP compliance enforced.
“Does that mean I agree with everything the Minister does – certainly not.
“I acknowledge that there is no trust in water management. Any trust that was there has been eroded over many years.
“The regulations won’t be supported until downstream communities have received a guarantee there will be flow targets along the river.”

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