Govt refuses to sign letter

By Country News

The Victorian Government is against future water buybacks but will not sign a letter penned by the state’s National Party to Bill Shorten asking for Federal Labor to reverse its position on the issue.

Despite the government’s position, a spokesperson said the letter was a stunt.

‘‘Our views on this issue are well known — we’re opposed to further buybacks,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘This just further highlights how much the Victorian National Party have given up on their friends in the Morrison Government.’’

Tatura dairy farmer Hamish Crawford, who hosted Victorian Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan and Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum last week, said if Federal Labor went ahead and lifted the cap on water buybacks it would reduce the amount of water available.

‘‘It just takes water out of the pool,’’ he said.

‘‘When water is available there is less of it and of course the price goes up.

‘‘And when water gets above $200/Ml for temporary water — and I am vulnerable to the temporary market, as I don’t have many high reliability water shares — it makes the business of irrigating hard.’’

Ms Ryan said if Federal Labor did lift the cap, communities would be worse off rather than better.

‘‘We think buying more water back from our communities is going to lead to further job losses, to more businesses closing, to more dairy farms shutting up shop,’’ she said.

‘‘That’s the message that we wanted Victoria to pass to Bill Shorten — that they need to reverse this very destructive policy that they are taking to this election and that they plan to put in place.’’

Ms Ryan also accused Premier Daniel Andrews of having ‘‘double standards’’.

‘‘This is not without precedent,’’ she said.

‘‘Several weeks ago the premier put a letter to both Michael O’Brien (Victorian Liberal leader) and Peter Walsh (Victorian Nationals leader) around drought, which both Peter and Michael were happy to sign because they believed that more support was required from the Federal Government for drought and drought measures.

‘‘It really shows a complete double standard that the premier is not willing to sign a letter that reflects the position that they say they have.’’

Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum echoed Ms Ryan’s comments.

‘‘This is the most destructive, most dangerous and the laziest of all water policies,’’ he said.