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Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

A government department is under pressure to release, in full, all documents relating to an 80-million-dollar taxpayer-funded water buyback.

Greg Dyett
Presented by
Alexandros Logothetis
Published on
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 17:43
File size
10.24 MB
5 min 35 sec

The former Deputy Prime Minister and water minister, Barnaby Joyce, is defending his decision to approve the water buyback to a company once linked to a Coalition frontbencher.

In 2017, then-water minister Barnaby Joyce approved a deal which saw the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources buy water from Eastern Australia Agriculture, a company co-founded by current Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

The company is controlled by Eastern Australia Irrigation which is based in the Cayman Islands, a well-known tax haven.

Angus Taylor served as a director of the Australian company in 2008 and 2009 but severed his ties before entering the parliament in 2013.

He has put out a statement saying he did not have an interest in Eastern Australia Agriculture, did not receive a benefit from the sale and did not take part in the negotiations over the water sale.

In a heated interview with the ABC, Barnaby Joyce says no government M-P ever profited from the buyback.

Mr Joyce made repeated mentions of the Labor party's role in facilitating the buyback.

In defending the deal, the Coalition also points out that in 2008 the Labor party spent more than $300 million on water buybacks.  

But Labor says the key difference is that its buybacks were conducted through a competitive tender process.  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the 2017 buyback was conducted at arm's length from any ministers.

He's also told the ABC donations made by Eastern Australia Agriculture to the Liberal Party before the 2013 election played no role in the water deal.

EAA donated $20,000 in 2012 and $35,000 in 2013 to the New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten says some form of judicial inquiry where people are compelled to give evidence is necessary.