Nationals Remain Silent on Water Registry Motion

The NSW Nationals need to decide if they support farmers or support secret water barons ahead of a parliamentary debate on publishing the names of water owners, says Shooters Fishers Farmers (SFF) party leader Robert Borsak.


On 27 February, SFF Member for Murray Helen Dalton will present a 11,000-strong petition to NSW parliament demanding a national water register – a searchable online database publishing the names of politicians, individuals and companies who own water – something country people want but Premier Berejiklian does not.

Mrs Dalton will argue in favour of Parliament supporting the petition motion, before Water Minister Melinda Pavey responds.

Shadow Water Minister Clayton Barr has recently stated that Labor supported the petition motion, telling Broken Hill’s newspaper Barrier Daily Truth “only crooks hide in dark corners”.

Although the Nationals, have refused to comment on the debate, Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro has said “we will fight for what is right regardless if it means crossing the floor on any issue with the Liberal party."

“Why on earth wouldn’t the Nationals support this petition motion? What are they hiding?” Mr Borsak said

“We’ve had immense corruption, mismanagement and insider trading under the Basin Plan.

“Country towns have run dry while companies have made millions trading water.”

“But currently, it’s impossible for ordinary Australians to know who owns our most valuable natural resource.”

“When politicians and foreign companies can own Australian water, but hide their identity, the system is rife for corruption”.

“The question for the Nationals is simple. Do you support farmers? Or do you want to continue protecting secret water barons?”

The petition – organised by rural community advocacy group Speak Up – requests the NSW Government lobby the federal government for both a national water register and a federal royal commission.

Helen Dalton MP has also finalised a separate bill providing for a NSW state water register. Her bill will also amend the pecuniary interest form state MPs must complete, so that they have to declare their water interests. Currently, there is no obligation for state MPs to declare their water holdings. 

“If the lower house votes this bill down, then we will introduce it in the upper house. It’s vital that this bill is made law,” Mr Borsak said.