Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce attends Nationals conference in Griffith

WITH the community still feeling anxious about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, one politician has moved to allay fears. 

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was in the region on the weekend to attend the Nationals Southern Regional Conference in Griffith. 

Mr Joyce, who is also the Federal Minister for Water Resources told delegates at the event he was committed to no further buybacks from irrigation communities. 

His comments followed Friday’s meeting of the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in Mildura. 

When I was the Shadow Water Minister, Sarah Hanson-Young was working with Tony Burke about how to take 6000 gigalitres out of the system,” Mr Joyce said.

“You could say goodbye to (the MIA) after that, it wouldn’t be here. What was achieved (on Friday) is a process of making sure that we have a clear understanding of how we get the best outcomes without having to do buybacks.”

The panel in Griffith on Saturday was facilitated by Perin Davey from Murray Irrigation and included NSW Water Minister Niall Blair, Coleambally Irrigation chief executive officer John Culleton, and former president of Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia Les Gordon.

The Nationals conference was the second of its kind to be held in recent months after a 20-year hiatus.

Mr Joyce also listed some of the achievements of his party, including $2.5 billion for water infrastructure, building inland rail and rolling out new mobile phone towers across regional Australia.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and her party were also in his line of fire on the day. “Where are you going to have these people … are you going to have them as the treasurer?” Mr Joyce asked.

“Are you going to have them as the finance minister?

“Maybe as the minister for agriculture?

“People look at them as destabilising. I wouldn’t have them anywhere near the government.”

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