FORMER Water Minister and New England MP Barnaby Joyce has defended his role in a controversial $78.9 million water buyback.
On Monday, Mr Joyce toldthe Leader he followed departmental advice in 2017 when signing off as minister on the negotiations for the water licences from two properties, but had no role in determining either the price or the vendor.
"They were done at arms length by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in conjunction with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder," Mr Joyce said.
The deal has come under closely scrutiny, with claims the government paid far too much for the water, to a company registered in the Cayman Islands, which was founded by Energy Minister Angus Taylor.
However, Mr Taylor said he had not been involved with the company since entering parliament and received no financial benefit from the deal.
The Leader is not suggesting Mr Joyce nor Mr Taylor have done anything illegal.
Independent New England candidate Adam Blakester said there were questions about whether the deal represented value for taxpayer money.
He has joined with 11 other independent candidates to call for a National Integrity Commission.
"These so-called 'Watergate' allegations of misuse of public funds clearly demonstrate the need for the urgent adoption of a comprehensive National Integrity Commission with retrospective powers," Mr Blakester said in a joint statement.
"The new parliament elected on May 18 must have at the top of its agenda the creation of a National Integrity Commission to restore public confidence that questionable transactions that may involve corruption or conflict of interests of members of parliament should be investigated."
New England Greens candidate Tony Lonergan called for all the documents on the water sale to be released.
"I don't want to pre-judge Barnaby, let's get the information out there," Mr Lonergan said.