Water

Schwarz rejects water claim

By Country News

Internal documents from Goulburn-Murray Water have been leaked which show a protracted dispute over $850000 between Shepparton Nationals candidate Peter Schwarz and the Connections project.

The documents reveal that although the money was paid by G-MW in 2011 for irrigation infrastructure modernisation on Mr Schwarz’s farm, the work has not been carried out.

Mr Schwarz has hit back at ‘‘misleading, vexatious and inaccurate’’ claims.

Labor claims the senior National, who is standing for the state seat of Shepparton at next month’s Victorian election, has serious questions to answer.

G-MW has said the issue was ‘‘substantially resolved’’ but no work had been conducted.

Mr Schwarz said he was among hundreds of irrigators ‘‘completely stuffed around for years’’ by the Connections project.

‘‘I reject completely any suggestion grants funding has been misused and my family and I are dismayed that such allegations have been made when it is so far from the truth,’’ he said on Friday.

‘‘Delays to works at our property are due to decisions regarding a piece of G-MW infrastructure; these were beyond our control.’’

Mr Schwarz said he was dismayed by the release of internal documents which give a ‘‘selective, one-sided view’’ of his dealings with the water authority.

He is considering taking legal action.

Federal Nationals leader Michael McCormack is confident Mr Schwarz has done nothing wrong.

Mr McCormack said the Victorian branch of the National Party, which had already declared there was nothing untoward about the matter, would investigate it properly.

‘‘Peter Schwarz is a good fellow,’’ Mr McCormack told the ABC.

Former Federal Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said he was concerned about any misappropriation of funds, but intended to give Mr Schwarz the benefit of the doubt.

‘‘I didn’t hear any criminal conviction ... and certainly for an amount of money like that, if it was that bad there would be,’’ Mr Joyce said.

‘‘I’m going to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and say that this is some sort of bureaucratic impasse and it’s something that’s going to be resolved.’’