THE recent royal commission in to the Murray Darling Basin Authority singled out the actions of Barnaby Joyce for ignoring the law while he was Water Minister.
Many people questioned the difference between “ignoring the law” and “breaking the law”.
The report pointed to an “ill-informed letter” from Mr Joyce to the South Australian water minister, as testament to the government’s lack of “any genuine commitment” to the goal of recovering 450 gigalitres of water for the environment.
In the letter, Mr Joyce said he couldn’t see the water being recovered without “causing negative social and economic impacts to South Australian communities”.
“Minister Joyce’s letter ignores the test of social and economic neutrality in sec 7.17(2)(b) of the Basin Plan,” the report said.
“That is no trifling thing, as that section was (and still currently is) the law.
“The test is satisfied by participation, not the concept of ‘hurting people’.”
The law in question relates to the Basin Plan, and sets out the steps the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) must take when adjusting water supply.
One of those steps is to test that the adjustment will have a positive or neutral impact on social and economic interests.
As Mr Joyce was the Water Minister, not the MDBA, the law did not apply to him.
What Joyce did, in espousing his views in that letter, was ignore the test of positive or neutral impact. Mr Joyce talks about “negative” impact, which is not the right test.
The Leader is seeking a response from Mr Joyce regarding the report.