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Basin board nominee hits back at criticism

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August 04, 2017

Deniliquin’s Perin Davey has defended herself against a scathing attack from South Australian Water Minister Ian Hunter.

News of Ms Davey’s nomination to the Murray Darling Basin Authority board seemingly incensed the minister, who lambasted the former Murray Irrigation staff member in metropolitan media.

Mr Hunter is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald last week as calling Ms Davey a ‘‘National Party hack’’ and accusing her of trying to ‘‘undermine the river recovery plan’’. The same report says Mr Hunter wrote to federal Water Minister Barnaby Joyce, who nominated Ms Davey for the MDBA board, saying his nomination was ‘‘ill advised’’ because of her ‘‘record of strongly advocating against the delivery of the plan’’.

Until now Ms Davey had refused to respond to Mr Hunter’s comments, but on Monday she said the minister’s argument that her previous roles advocating on behalf or irrigators made her unsuitable for the role on the MDBA board were actually good reasons for her to be appointed.

‘‘Certainly from our community’s perspective we have been calling for more balance in the Basin Plan, and that is not unique to our area,’’ Ms Davey said.

‘‘In the implementation of the Basin Plan in transitioning technical development to on the ground, it would be beneficial to have someone on the board who knows how it works on the ground and can speak with communities.

‘‘Ian Hunter appears to have seen an opportunity to ride off the coat tails of the Four Corners report (into alleged water theft in the Barwon Darling area), and his comments have become quite personal.’’

Ms Davey said she believes Mr Hunter’s description of her as a ‘‘National Party hack’’ dates back to a job she held with former Nationals Senator Ron Boswell’s office 17 years ago, a position she said she held only for a few months.

She said by that standard half the people in politics could be described the same, and she also argues that roles such as these have given her better qualifications for a position on the MDBA board.

‘‘It gives me a good understanding of how politics works, and in getting policy implemented,’’ Ms Davey said.

‘‘It’s worth noting that the Murray Darling Basin Authority board cannot change the Basin Plan — that is up to the politicians and the board is there to guide the implementation.’’

Ms Davey had initially expected to hear if her nomination was successful by Monday, but she said an announcement date was now unknown.

She said inquiries regarding allegations raised in the Four Corners report last week may be the reason for the delay.

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