Leak reveals Labor role in ‘water gate’
THE Palaszczuk Government wrote to Barnaby Joyce in 2015 asking him to buy water from a Queensland company linked to a business in the Cayman Islacalled "water gate" deal, explosive correspondence has revealed.
The Morrison Government has denied any wrongdoing after federal Labor heaped on pressure over a $80 million water purchase from Eastern Australia Agriculture, a company Energy Minister Angus Taylor was once director of but never had a financial interest in.
Federal Labor has demanded questions be answered over value for money and possible conflicts of interests, however, The Courier-Mail can today reveal the State Government urged Mr Joyce to buy the water when he was water resources minister.
State Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham wrote to Mr Joyce on November 4, 2015, to ask for help to return water to the Murray Darling Basin. Queensland, as a signatory to the Murray Darling Basin Plan, wanted to meet a recovery target.
"The Queensland Government would like to discuss further with you the opportunity to make significant progress against water recovery targets in the Condamine-Balonne catchment through a potential purchase of properties by Eastern Australia Agriculture in the Lower Bolonne area,'' Dr Lynham wrote.
"There have been previous discussions held between the Queensland and Australian Governments in relation to the potential purchase of the EAA enterprises with both parties acknowledging that this represents a significant opportunity to make substantial progress towards achieving the water recovery targets.
"The Queensland Government remains supportive of such a potential purchase but is also cognisant for the social and economic impacts that such a purchase could have on the St George and Dirranbandi community (although) … a purchase will minimise the impact of direct water buyback on the 45 or so smaller and mainly family-owned irrigation enterprises located in the Lower Balonne."
Dr Lynham told The Courier-Mail last night that his Government expressed its support in 2015 "because it helped achieve the Basin Plan water recovery targets.''
PM Scott Morrison said yesterday the price negotiated for the water was done "at arm's length from ministers".