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Call to split up the water and agriculture portfolios

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November 24, 2017

SA Minister for Water Ian Hunter said former federal water minister Barnaby Joyce is the "best example" of why a joint portfolio doesn't work.

South Australia have called on the federal government to split up the water and agriculture ministries, labeling the decision to tie them together a ‘‘failed experiment’’.

South Australian Minister for Water Ian Hunter said former federal water minister Barnaby Joyce, who is was removed from office after it was revealed he held dual citizenship, is the ‘‘best example’’ of why the portfolios need to be separated.

‘‘He attempted to mislead a pub of Shepparton locals that the problem was with the greenies and that the water portfolio better sat with agriculture, so that he could ensure that his big cotton-growing mates could benefit from the water and the money flowing from the Murray-Darling Basin,’’ Mr Hunter said in South Australian parliament this week.

‘‘The decision to have over both portfolios of agriculture and water policy to (former) Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce was a failed experiment. It failed majestically; it has failed hugely for South Australia.’’

Following a motion passed in South Australian parliament this week, supported by the Labor and Liberal parties and the SA Greens, the parliament has made a formal request to the federal government to separate the portfolios.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston declined to comment.

Greens member Tammy Franks, who brought the motion to the floor of the Legislative Council, said separating the portfolios would be the ‘‘fair’’ thing to do.

‘‘We have been, we are being and we will continue to be ripped off for as long as we have a water minister who is beholden to the top end of the country and indeed the top end of town,’’ she told parliament.

‘‘It is a joke, it is a disgrace."

Southern Riverina Irrigators chairman Graeme Pyle said South Australia should try and be part of water policy solutions rather than playing politics, labeling the motion a ‘‘stunt’’ and ‘‘extremely disappointing’’.

“While other governments try to work towards balanced outcomes in water distribution, South Australia continually refuses to be part of a positive process forward,’’ he said.

‘‘Surely it’s time these games, coupled with an unswerving mantra to pour water across the SA border regardless of upstream social and economic devastation, came to an end.”

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