Narrandera Argus
Dalton bill strikes a nerve

A water register bill posed by Member for Murray Helen Dalton has drawn the wrath of politicians and lobby groups at a parliamentary inquiry.

“When 11,000 members of the public sign a petition for a water register, and all the powerful groups try and stop it, you know you are on the right track,” Mrs Dalton said.

A NSW parliamentary inquiry into Mrs Dalton’s bill to force politicians to declare their water interests, and create a searchable online water register, held hearings last week.

Among those fronting the inquiry and united in their opposition to the bill were former National Party water ministers Kevin Humphries and Katrina Hodgkinson, current water minister Melinda Pavey, Griffith mayor John Dal Broi, NSW Farmers and the NSW Irrigators Council.

“Some called it a waste of time. Others called it an invasion of privacy. But they all seem to want my bill to disappear,” Mrs Dalton said.

A key claim of groups was a water register would lead to Aussie Farm-style terrorist attacks on irrigators.

“This is absolute rubbish. I’m an irrigator. Anyone who walks past my farm already knows I own water,” Mrs Dalton said.

“A water register would expose the Sydney traders and foreign companies who own water. Not farmers.

“We already have to land register. But a water register seems to terrify a lot of powerful people.

“People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing. This shows why we need a water register.”

Mrs Dalton claimed some of the evidence given at the hearings was contradictory.

Griifith City Council mayor John Dal Broi said Council supported transparency in water entitlements.

“However, I don’t support retrospective reporting or that spouses should also have to declare their entitlements,” Cr Dal Broi said.

Water researcher Maryanne Slattery and Southern Riverina Irrigators Vice Chair Darcy Hare were among the few who expressed support for Mrs Dalton bill.

The inquiry will present recommendations to NSW Parliament on the bill in September.