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Farmers are worried about Federal government plan to recover 450 gigalitres of water

On the Voice to Parliament referendum, David Littleproud is not confident about the outcome, emphasising that Australians should make their own informed decisions, regardless of celebrity endorsements.

By news@gippsland - 4th October 2023 - Back to News

Regional Sky News host Ashlea Hansen welcomes David Littleproud to the show, "Joining me live now is Nationals leader David Littleproud. David, good morning to you. "Yeah, good morning. Thanks for having me", he replied. "Now, what are farmers telling you about the revised water buybacks?" Ms Hansen asked.

David Littleproud criticises the yes campaign for relying on celebrities and corporate support, stating that Australians prefer to make independent choices

David Littleproud criticises the yes campaign for relying on celebrities and corporate support, stating that Australians prefer to make independent choices

Farming community concerns

Well, they're frightened, and this is creating another layer of anxiety that this government is putting on them, whether it's live sheep, whether it's the Ag visa that has been taken away. Now, whether it's an additional 450 gigalitres of water that they want to recover, that actually tears up the very legislation that they put in place in 2012 in a bipartisan approach to recover water to the environment. We've recovered nearly 80 percent of that.

We'll recover nearly all of that with infrastructure if we allow the time for that to happen. But what they've done is add another 450 gigalitres, which means you take that out of the consumptive pool, you take that away from farmers to use, and that means they produce less and your prices go up.

Ideology vs. reality

This is all ideology, not practical reality, and it's against the very intent of their very own legislation. And so there's trauma that's been rehashed around the Basin that farmers first felt when the Basin plan was brought out in 2012. And Labor really are just tearing up these communities.

It's not farmers that'll hurt, don't worry about the farmers. They get paid for the water. It's the communities that are left behind. It's the machinery dealer, it's the pump shop, it's the cafe, it's the hairdresser and Labor doesn't understand that, but everybody will hurt because we'll be producing less. And when you produce less, your prices go up.

Alternative water plan

Ms Hansen asked, "So what's the alternative here? I know that Coalition MPs are touring the region next week. What's the alternative?" Mr Littleproud said, "Well, sadly, not even the crossbench Senators or the Teals would support a bipartisan inquiry into understanding what this change of legislation would mean to not only regional Australia, but would mean to people's grocery bills. And so it's been beholden on the Coalition to go around and to actually hear the concerns of these communities."

"But the alternative, quite simple, is to stick to the plan as it was laid out in 2012, that we recover the 2,750 gigalitres of which we will be able to complete with infrastructure. And the 450 gigalitres is additional water that can't be recovered, unless it can prove that it doesn't have a detrimental impact. Now I haven't been able to prove that."

"And to go to simple buybacks is what this government wants to do. We'll decimate communities, but we'll drive up your grocery bills. And that's why we're saying we don't need to do anything. We just simply need to continue on the pathway of the plan. The plan that was put in place in 2012, Labor's 2012 plan, that they are now tearing up for political expediency in a couple of Adelaide seats," he said.

Voice to parliament referendum

Ms Hansen asked, "Now onto the Voice to Parliament referendum. Early voting has begun. Are you confident that the no vote will get up?"

Mr Littleproud said, "No, I'm not confident. I never take for granted the result of an election. The Australian people always get it right, but you have to earn their vote. And we've been very clear. And as The Nationals who staked an early position on this, a principal position back in November last year, one predicated on lived experience. This isn't a new proposition."

"We've had a represented body before. It's called ATSIC, where we live with those consequences. If this was about constitutional recognition, then we would support it. So we are proudly the ones that formulated the pamphlet that every Australian has. And while there's a lot of accusations about misinformation and disinformation, I just say to my fellow Australians, please just read the pamphlet. Look at the yes case and look at the no case, and get to a position predicated on the information provided to you, which is fact."

"Look at that pamphlet and make your determination. And we think that if Australians read that pamphlet, then they will vote no. And Australians shouldn't feel guilted into voting one way or another before an election or guilted after for the result. This is where the Australian people have their right to make their own personal decision on this. And the Australian people always get it right, no matter the result," he said.

Influence of celebrity support

Ms Hansen asked, "It was a big weekend of grand finals and superstar Nathan Cleary came out and supported the Voice to Parliament. Do you think that someone like him coming out and supporting the Voice will sway voters, those undecided ones?"

Mr Littleproud said, "Oh, look, I respect Nathan Cleary as a great footballer and I respect the fact that he has his own personal views as I do and I have more lived experience in representing where the disadvantage is. So I've got to a different position than Nathan. I respect that he's got that, but I don't think that Australians are listening to celebrities or sports stars or corporate Australia."

Celebrities and corporates

Mr Littleproud also said, "I think that one of the mistakes of the yes vote has been to enlist our corporates and stars, to come and tell Australians what to do. Australians don't like to be told what to do. They'll make their own mind up with their information put in front of them. And that's why I say the pamphlet is such a powerful document because if they read the pamphlet, they're able to make that determination."

"And sadly, I think that if the yes case thinks that getting stars are coming in, whether it be John Farnham, whether it be Nathan Cleary or Paul Kelly, the singer as well, then I think they're misguided. I think corporate Australia has made a big misstep in simply trying to buy social licence with this matter, rather than staying out of it and letting the moral compass and the future of our country be determined by the Australian individuals, not by those that have a privileged position in our society," he said.

Voter independence in Australia

Ms Hansen asked, "Yeah. But perhaps that isn't the yes campaign, it's the individuals and are you having a go at them for coming out and supporting it? I mean, they are role models?"

Mr Littleproud said, "No. Well, as I said, I respect that they have their own opinion, but I think what Australians invariably like to do is to be able to make their own mind up with the information themselves and not to be talked to, particularly by those, particularly corporates and sporting groups telling them how they should vote. I think Australians are very individualistic, but I respect it is an individual's right to make that determination."

"I think it's a misstep, but what I'm saying is the yes case puts too much weight on individuals and corporate Australia and sporting organisations in supporting this because that's not the psyche of this country."

"Australians don't like to be talked down to. They actually want to make their own mind up and they'll invariably get to it on their own volition. And I think what my point is, is that I respect my own individual points of view. I think it's a mistake by the yes case to enlist them and to put too much weight on it," he said.

Pictures from Agriculture Victoria Facebook page.


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