FARRER MP Sussan Ley has hit back at Independent candidate Kevin Mack as tension builds over the government's water buyback deal, dubbed 'watergate'.
The government's $80 million water buyback will "heighten the angst" of struggling farmers in the Farrer electorate, according to Independent candidate Kevin Mack.
But Ms Ley has called on the "Albury water candidate" to look at other buyback deals done in the past by Labor.
"If Albury's water candidate is so concerned with the price paid here, then he can take a close look at the $300m Labor paid for a buyback of 24 gigalitres of water in NSW in 2009 without even consulting local communities," she said.
"And if it's about probity, the department has already indicated it took all due diligence and an independent investigation of the proposal.
"Far from making things worse in Farrer, many irrigators will actually tell you this particular water recovery purchase reduced the volume that would have otherwise been bought back from communities in my electorate."
The deal has resurfaced this week with suggestions of wrongdoing after the purchase came under scrutiny once again for its record dollar value and a past relationship between the Energy Minister Angus Taylor and the seller.
The government paid the record amount for water entitlements in south-east Queensland from a company called Eastern Australia Agriculture (EAA) to form part of environmental flows in the Murray Darling Basin.
But it is the company's parent company, Eastern Australia Irrigation, which is based in the Cayman Islands tax haven which has reignited the transaction during the federal election campaign.
Mr Mack said "watergate just adds to the tsunami of anger and frustration" felt by farming families across Farrer.
"With the revelations of the controversial water buyback deal worth $80 million and further attention focused on the Coalition's Barnaby Joyce and Angus Taylor, the calls for a Royal Commission are getting louder," Mr Mack said.
"Our message is getting through. There is greater understanding of this government's failure to develop regional and water policy that has supported growth and economic development across rural and regional Australia.
"We have been calling for a Royal Commission for more than six weeks now, and now the Greens are calling for one as well, this just shows our claim for the Royal Commission is valid.
"The plan has to be paused and reviewed - this will just add to the frustration felt by the people of Farrer about the governance of the plan."
Mr Mack has welcomed Labor's deadline to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to address questions about the buybacks by Monday.
"Labor has reportedly not ruled out establishing a Royal Commission into the various water buyback transactions, should it be elected to government on May 18," Mr Mack said.
"This is not about the drought; this is about policy, a policy that has failed regional Australia while allowing others to profit from their misery.
"The Murray Darling Basin Plan is not working for the environment, for our national and state and regional economies, farmers and plans to grow regional Australia."
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