South Australia’s Water Minister has been prevented from giving evidence at a Senate inquiry into the Murray-Darling Basin.
Ian Hunter made an unscheduled appearance at the hearing in Adelaide on Thursday, November 2 but was refused permission to make a statement alongside departmental officials.
However, a member of his department was allowed to read a statement on his behalf.
The statement alleged there was corruption, water theft and systematic undermining of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said it was an atrocious decision by the chair, Senator Glenn Sterle, to reject the evidence of the minister.
‘‘Often in these committees, we want to call state ministers and they refuse to come,’’ Senator Hanson-Young said.
‘‘To have a state minister sitting in front of us willing to give evidence and dismissing it, I think was the wrong call.’’
Mr Hunter agreed and described his treatment as a ‘‘terrible political blunder’’.
‘‘It shows again the eastern states don’t really care about South Australia’s position on water — how dare we have a view about it,’’ Mr Hunter told ABC radio.
Senator Hanson-Young said $13billion had been spent to secure water in the basin for the environment, but the water was instead being sucked out into storage for big corporations.
‘‘We need to clean up this mess, we need to return water to the river and we need to return integrity to the system,’’ she said.