Mixed reaction to new water minister

By Geoff Adams

State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed, who last year called for Federal Member for Nichols Damian Drum to become water minister, said she was concerned by the appointment of Queensland MP Keith Pitt to the water portfolio.

She said Mr Pitt did not have any experience in the portfolio, did not represent electorates in the basin and had too many ties to the Queensland mining industry.

“It's an ominous sign for constituents in the southern basin who have had to fight long and hard for a fairer and better Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” Ms Sheed said.

“Let's hope he shows an interest in the southern basin and can meet with our communities as soon as possible.”

North Victorian Irrigation Communities president Dudley Bryant said "maybe" Mr Pitt could bring something new to the role.

“The last two water ministers have overseen the most disgraceful acts of destroying and pillaging the Darling River,” Mr Bryant said.

“Both of them came from Queensland and were influenced by the cotton growers and corporates.

“Maybe it will be a good thing for the Murray Darling Basin to have someone that would have an open view. Maybe he won't be as biased.”

Although Mr Bryant had contempt for Mr Littleproud, he said the timing of the cabinet reshuffle was poor.

“We felt like we were making progress with him,” he said.

“Now we have to start over again.

“After the rally in Canberra, he made a commitment he couldn't walk back from."

City of Greater Shepparton councillor Dennis Patterson said he was frustrated all three water ministers since 2013 had been from the northern basin.

“There's been no representation in that role from anyone in the southern basin,” Cr Patterson said.

“No-one really seems to know who this new guy is.”

Cr Patterson said he was not convinced Mr Pitt's new role as Resources Minister, which is primarily focused on mining, would have much effect on the southern basin.

“The problems we have aren't from mining, but more from mismanagement,” Cr Patterson said.

“My concern is, will he have a grip and knowledge of how the southern basin works?

“We do need to give him time adjust to the role and hopefully he can sort this mess out.”