For the second time in the last few weeks the Agriculture Minister has had to correct an answer he has given to Parliament, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“Just last month Damien O’Connor had to correct the record and admit that he never met with Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) officials ahead of blind-siding them with his decision to cancel a number of Crown funded irrigation schemes around the country.
“He also said that no meetings had been requested.
“Despite the Prime Minister proclaiming this would be the most ‘open and transparent’ Government, it now transpires these officials requested at least three times to meet with the Minister - but were ignored.
“Instead of showing them the respect and courtesy they were due, his office palmed them off to MPI on two occasions before declining a third request to meet him personally.
“This is shocking behaviour by the Minister in charge of this Crown entity and shows quite a degree of arrogance.
“Because he knew he had to deliver on the coalition agreement with the Greens to halt irrigation projects, he couldn’t do the decent thing and eyeball CIIL officials trying to get clarity on their future direction.
“Mr O’Connor is obviously under enormous pressure from a cash-strapped Finance Minister to claw back $100 million from regional irrigation projects – but that’s come at the expense of farmers across the country being able to future-proof themselves against droughts.
“Damien O’Connor needs to take a real lesson from this – not just to stay on top of his paperwork – but also to ensure ongoing transparency with an industry crying out for some certainty,” Mr Guy says.