Baldwin hits the watery road
The new MP in charge of federal water policy says he has a lot to learn.
Northern NSW Liberal MP Bob Baldwin has taken over from Senator Simon Birmingham Federal Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment.
His new responsibilities include the Federal water portfolio, a field in which he admits he faces a steep learning curve.
Mr Baldwin has begun by reinforcing the government's commitment to deliver the Murray Darling Basin Plan in full by 2019.
He said he wanted to get out and speak with people in the Murray-Darling Basin, instead of relying on briefings and glossy brochures.
Baldwin has completed the first leg of his Basin tour, through north-east Victoria, the Murray River communities of South Australia, and back through Deniliquin in NSW.
He sat down for talks with South Australian Water Minister Ian Hunter, which Mr Baldwin called a “very, very positive” meeting.
“There's a lot of miscommunication, or poor communication out there, and I've spoken to the new chair [of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority] Neil Andrew about improving that from the MDBA side,” he told ABC reporters.
“People also with sectional interests in the community out there ramp up their cause and that's understandable, but what people want is for us to get on with the job.”
“The one thing I've said while I've been out amongst the community is; ‘Don't just tell me it won't work’, in generalisations.
“If people have exact evidence issues that they can raise, we will look at those.
“But the broad rhetoric of; ‘It just won't work, it should be stopped’, just doesn't cut the deal.”
After a brief stint back in Federal Parliament in Canberra next week, Mr Baldwin says he will continue his tour through Murrumbidgee valley in southern NSW, then north to the Darling River.