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Barwon candidate puts water flow restrictions down to vote-chasing

Monday, 2nd February, 2015

An independent candidate for the seat of Barwon has accused NSW Water Minister Kevin Humphries of interfering in the water management policies of his department for his own political gain. 

Mr Humphries’ decision last week to restrict access to supplementary water flows to irrigators in the northern catchment circumvented processes already in place to manage the precious resource, said Rohan Boehm.

But Mr Humphries said that he could not believe Mr Boehm would put irrigators before people during a drought.

“He should know that water supplies for many communities along Darling remain at critically low levels, and decisive action based on the best possible advice was undertaken to ensure communities experiencing severe water shortages receive maximum benefit from the recent rainfall in the northern part of the catchment,” Mr Humphries told the BDT yesterday.

“I am confident that local irrigators understand the situation Darling communities are facing and the need for action to be taken to protect water supply for critical human needs.

“It beggars belief that at a time many Darling communities are facing severe water shortages he is advocating for irrigation to be prioritised ahead of emergency water supplies for human consumption.”

Mr Boehm accused the minister of failing to speak with the water advisory group before enforcing the restrictions but Mr Humphries said he had consulted with them.

“The Water Minister has demonstrated that he is out of touch with the needs of irrigators and is not listening to expert scientific advice,” Mr Boehm said.

“This is another ill-informed ‘captain’s call’, seeking political gain two months out from an election.”

Mr Boehm accused Mr Humphries, the Member for Barwon, of using his ministerial power to circumvent a “well-established public consultation process which gives people confidence that things are being run as they should.

“This disenfranchises all stakeholders involved. Businesses and communities need certainty to manage this valuable resource.

“We demand a fair, equitable and transparent process, not the kind of arrogant, indifferent political decisions that are typical of the Nationals and this Minister.

“Essentially people have really lost their voice in these decisions and my aim is to regain the voice of the people and those who have genuine independent expertise.”

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