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Stay tuned – Breaking story about Angus Taylor, Barnaby Joyce and water buybacks

Over the last week or so, an important story has been doing the rounds about water buybacks.

The woman who broke the story had her twitter account disabled though the story is still available. (Not linking to it in order to avoid similar legal threats).

Investigative journalists Michael West, who has added to the story, and Margot Kingston, whose twitter feed automatically retweeted the story, have received legal threats.

Yesterday, Michael West tweeted “Update #Watergate: have found extra stuff, still working through accounts, need to get it right due to legal threats, will publish late today.”  I am still waiting to read his update.

The Guardian wrote a story titled “Questions over companies chosen for $200m of Murray-Darling water buybacks” on Wednesday.

Today, the ABC’s Laura Tingle, wrote under the heading “Watergate resurfaces, Joyce and Taylor scrutinised”:

“A story about water buybacks that has been floating around since 2017 in various forms threatens to do that to the Coalition after both the Guardian and The Project’s Hamish McDonald and business writer Michael West brought it to the mainstream media this week.

It centres on two water licences bought by the government for a total of $80 million in 2017 from a company once associated with Energy Minister Angus Taylor, Eastern Australia Agriculture, in a deal signed off by the then Water Minister Barnaby Joyce.”

McDonald’s report on The Project is compulsory viewing.

On Thursday, Tony Burke issued a media release with questions for Scott Morrison though I cannot find a copy of it other than as a screenshot – not sure if it has been removed?

On Good Friday, the Department of Agriculture issued a media statement in response to the information hitting the public domain.  That in itself is extraordinary.

Let me take this opportunity to say of course Angus and Barnaby have done nothing wrong.  Who would ever imply such a thing?  But perhaps it’s that very thing, that this deal was all legal, that raises more questions than anything else.

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82 comments

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  1. David Stakes

    Suspended my twitter account as well, I wonder how many have been taken down.

  2. TuffGuy

    As usual it would appear the government is working very hard to keep things secret. When Federal ICAC gets up and running they will be flat out for the next decade or more just from cleaning up the corruption in the current government.

  3. paul walter

    It has been softly buzzing just below the surface for several days through MSM.

    I doubt whether the lunks will be bothered, they seem to prefer corruption to say, policies that help the poor.

  4. Jaquix

    Surprised my twitter account hasnt gone as well. But Angus Taylor would have to sue half of #auspol, because the story has been shared multiple times. Plus The Guardian article, and Michael West Business have publicised.

    Very, very telling that the Murdoch Media is studiously ignoring this – you can just imagine the outcry, all mastheads across the country would have this story spashed over their front pages, were it 2 Labor Ministers with a Cayman Islands Company, which managed to seel $80 million worth of flood water, to the government.

    This story MUST be brought to the attention of all Labor and Greens candidates and MPS, Senators. (So far only Andrew Leigh has sent a tweet). I believe Michael West says there is more to come on this story – this week.
    He tried to contact Barnaby’s office, but received email saying “Barnaby is of of range”. (He has to come back “into range” soon!)
    New England needs to know whats going on! Murdoch (and other media) got Barnaby elected last time by holding back the story of his affair with Vikki. Should not happen again.

  5. whatever

    Chris Corrigan, of the union-busting Patrick Stevedores, has been doing nicely out of Water Buyback deals for the farming properties he invests in.

  6. Kaye Lee

    I spoke to a well-respected Walkley award-winning journalist who has been covering the water story for some time when I first heard about the latest revelations. Their response was “Yes joyce, littleproud, humphries, taylor are all in it up to their necks.”

    That was an off-the-record comment expressing one person’s opinion albeit based on years of research. (Don’t sue me)

  7. Lambert Simpleton

    All is suppression, Kaye Lee…all is suppression.

  8. pierre wilkinson

    wow! when the accounting for their actions arrives, watch them all scurry away into dark corners of memory lapses

  9. Keitha Granville

    the very fact that it might be all legal makes it even worse methinks. Serious issues re conflict of interest.

  10. Kaye Lee

    The REALLY telling thing for me is that the Dept of Agriculture sent out a press release on Good Friday, the day after the Project story was aired. They must be REALLY worried to get public servants to work overnight at Easter when the pollies themselves were supposedly taking the day off out of respect for the holiday or some such thing? If the whole thing was crap. or able to be legitimately explained, why the flurry of legal threats and why co-opt the department to put a response together on Good Friday? Just answer the questions if there is no problem.

  11. John Boyd

    Are we really saying that the Morrison government is pressuring Twitter to delete feeds that it does not like?

  12. Phil

    help me understand please? How is that a landholder can ‘own’ water. The landholders whose licences are being bought by the federal government are not water-holders surely? Where did they get their water? Water falls from the sky after being lifted from some other place on the planet, then its dropped onto someones land and they take ownership? How so?
    Do these same landholders own the air beneath, on and above their land? Can they sell this to the suckers too?

    Privatising water is a crime of neoliberalism. It should be ended,

  13. Kronomex

    John,

    Gasp! How could you think such evil thoughts? We all love our leaders (Hail The Scummo) in Canberra and doff our caps (Il Duttonuci protect us) and genuflect before the framed image of Saint Morriscum the First that we gladly and freely put on the wall in our living rooms that the nice men from Border Farce gave us (we are so proud that they care for us) at three in morning after battering the door down to save us the trouble of (Blessed be the Mad Monk) opening it ourselves.

    We adore the LNP.

    And now it is time to prostrate ourselves and bathe in the loving light and sound of the Foxtel.

  14. Alcibiades

    Kaye,
    Really ? 😉

    The Twitter account with the original expose’ (Internet Archive copy here) was re-instated not long after Michael West published publicly available ASIC records and queried if he’d receive dodgy ‘Cease & Desist’ letters too.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/MichaelWestBiz/status/1116465879921725440 (Michael West initial Tweet)

    The Australia Institute That’s not how you haggle (PDF) published research on the topic back in March, ignored by the MSM.

    As of ~40m ago, the Ronni Salt Twitter account has again been revoked after asking this question ?

    https://mobile.twitter.com/Jeffontherange/status/1119502659029876736/photo/1 (Twitter)

    The corporate MSM is dutifully doing everything possible to censor & omit this story, just as they collectively did re Parakeelia, the Panama Papers, Dual-citizenship re Libs/Nats, everything Barnaby Joyce until after his by-election, etc.

    The Graund has mentioned WaterGate in passing, no investigation. Laura Tingle, mentioned others reports as commentary, embedded in an article briefly covering various topics. No investigation, nor by the ABC.

    Only the now US CBS Ten network has investigated via The Project in conjunction with independent citizen funded Financial Investigative journalist Michael West.

    Multiple Parliamentarians are repeatedly rapid firing legal threats at any mention of the topic.

    A Free non-partisan/beholden Press ? Don’t make cry,bitterly.

    The current Agriculture Dept head ? Barnaby ?

    One from the past, also buried by the MSM, until … after the 2016 election:

    Agriculture Department head Paul Grimes questioned Barnaby Joyce’s ‘integrity’ days before being – sacked

    A one-page letter that the federal government has spent a year and a half and tens of thousands of dollars trying to keep from public sight raises explosive questions about Barnaby Joyce’s conduct and “integrity”.

    His replacement by Barnaby no doubt carefully selected to be far more – compliant.

  15. Alcibiades

    John,
    YES.

    Not only pressuring, promptly having entire accounts deleted. Numerous longstanding widely followed competent accounts, that coincidentally raise telling issues re the LNP.

    Twitter complies instantly, no correspondence re revocation seriously entered into.

    Oh, another amusing observation of note is the clumsy, yet revealing, very recent editing history of Angus Taylors Wikipedia entry (Since March, yet especially since 18 April).

  16. Alcibiades

    A partisan corporate MSM of omission …

    Through studied omission, who are the majority MSM outlets choosing not to report the following (all except ABC SBS, the Graund, so far):

    Coalition faces calls for inquiry into Murray-Darling deals signed by Barnaby Joyce The Guardian

    Sarah Hanson-Young demands a royal commission as Bill Shorten urges Morrison to produce all documents.
    Both call for the Auditor-General to investigate …

    Agriculture Department stands by water buybacks, amid claims of scandal and calls for an inquiry ABC News

    The Agriculture Department is standing by a controversial water buyback deal worth $80 million, which Labor leader Bill Shorten says is a scandal worthy of inquiry … declaring there are “probity questions as far as the eye can see”…

    Government says no need for water royal commission SBS News

    The federal government insists there is no need for a royal commission into purchases of water under the Murray-Darling Basin plan, but Labor Leader Bill Shorten says there are questions to be answered.

    Federal Labor is demanding to know whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison is confident that $80 million worth of water purchases under the Murray-Darling Basin are above board.

    Labor Leader Bill Shorten on the election campaign trail in Melbourne said this was the nation’s most expensive water purchase but questions have been raised over its probity.

    “Our river system is stuffed and it is stuffed because this is a government who hasn’t had a plan to look after the whole of the river basin,” Mr Shorten told reporters.

    “It has played favourites. It has pursued particular commercial agenda and as a result, Australia’s mighty Murray-Darling is on the critical list…”

    PS Angus Taylor used to champion prosecution, of others, for tax avoidance via tax havens … even whilst, well, you know …

    https://mobile.twitter.com/ALeighMP/status/1119387568368304129?p=v (Twitter)

  17. Wun Farlung

    And then this

    What is more disconcerting, though, is that apart from the @JohnWren1950 account, other Left-leaning Twitter accounts are also being suspended or disabled completely. It is beginning to appear as though Twitter is deliberately taking action to quash political dissent during the election campaign. If this is the case, then it is clear interference in free speech, indeed it could be argued that it is foreign interference in the campaign.

    It is also clear that the charge of “impersonation” against the John Wren account is simply a fabricated excuse they have used to divert attention from something they’ve most likely done at the Government’s behest. They won’t talk to us as they’d be forced into admitting it. Their avoidance is telling.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/wrens-week-labor-policy-captain-getup-and-twitter-discrimination,12597

  18. Kaye Lee

    I cannot understand why we are not entitled to any information about the Healthy Headwaters program or any other government funded program we want to know about. What has happened to transparency and accountability? The Auditor-General has repeatedly lambasted programs for a failure to follow-up on contracts or a lack of cost/benefit before they are awarded. We pay big money to people and then do not monitor how or if they deliver. NO business would ever work this way.

  19. Alcibiades

    Kaye.
    Venality ? A combination of our entrenched Squattocracy & the endemic, though not wholly unique, Oz ‘Game of Mates’ ?

    History, supposed old news & studies, often relevant …

    Battlers and plutocrats: How political connections reward Australia’s super-rich – The Drum, 26 Aug 2015

    Research reveals a huge proportion of Australia’s richest people amass their wealth via political connections rather than via innovative businesses – which is helping them at the expense of everyone else.

    The Washington Post ran an article last week reporting that 65 per cent of the richest people in Australia had amassed their wealth via political connections rather than via innovative businesses.

    According to the quoted research, Australian residents are rewarded for their political connections about as much as Indonesian or Indian residents, with Colombia offering the biggest rewards…

  20. DrakeN

    Kaye,

    there really is very little to wonder about – the whole purpose of attaining positions of power in one of self service; the triennial -or whatever- farce and farrago of partisan politics is a process of justification for greed, power and self-aggrandisement, for themselves and for their friends, families and colleagues.

    A means to an end, where the end justifies the means in their eyes.

    ” We pay big money to people and then do not monitor how or if they deliver. NO business would ever work this way.”

    Not so; the large corporations ALL work this way: The everyday shareholder largely has neither interest nor input into company management.
    Vast salaries and unwarranted “bonuses” for the boards and CEOs are standard operating proceedures.

  21. Kaye Lee

    Another story that has “nothing to do with Angus Taylor”….

    “Company linked to Angus Taylor investigated over alleged illegal landclearing

    An investigation into illegal land clearing against a company part-owned by the family of federal minister Angus Taylor was dropped by the New South Wales government, and a separate investigation under federal environmental laws has taken more than two years.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/08/nsw-government-abandoned-land-clearing-investigation-into-company-linked-to-angus-taylor

  22. LOVO

    Nothing LESS than a Royal Commission is needed/warranted , …these bastards are “having a go” …at US …fair dinkom 😤
    Our democracy, our Australian ‘story’ is at stake……and youse can take that to the Cayman’s and back..no really.
    An Royal Commission into the Barka Debacle..NOW.
    P.S. They can deliver an unwanted $500 mill. pipeline to Broken hill, but they can’t provide air-conditioning to the schools, pfft

  23. Zathras

    While they hold the key they are free to plunder the public fund vault, especially when time may be running out and opportunities fading. It’s just typical corruption and yet so clumsy and blatant.

    Likewise the granting of huge funds for Barrier Reef preservation outside the normal process is something that’s fallen from the pages of the media, just to name one example.

    Making legal threats over something that should be well documented and readily dismissed is the act of a frightened bully trying to stall for time and hopefully stomewall long enough for the matter to be forgotten.

    Unfortunately those that make their living by wielding the conspiratorial sword against their opponents are likely to suffer the same fate. Karma?

  24. Alcibiades

    Kaye, this ? 😉

    Barnaby Joyce, Angus Taylor, Australia and the Caribbean – Michael West, Apr 21, 2019

    It is extraordinary that the profit from Barnaby Joyce’s record payment for Australian water rights, an $80 million payment of taxpayers’ money, found its way to a company in the Cayman Islands which had been set up by Angus Taylor, a company at which Taylor had been a director for six years. Report by Michael West.

    Australia’s water buy-backs scheme was designed to help drought-stricken farmers and our vital ecosystems, not to deliver a large profit for investors in a Caribbean tax haven.

    As the legal threats are swirling, we will carefully detail what we know so far – and what we don’t know – but firstly, we can reveal today:

    Coincidentally, Barnaby’s media spokesman informed all journalist’s phone numbers had been blocked & neither he nor his office would be taking calls …

    https://mobile.twitter.com/workmanalice/status/1119475240902381569?p=v (Twitter)

    Oops, sorry, that was the Member for Manila, George Christensen, Dawson(QLD). Barnaby ‘Caaarp!’ Joyce is apparently on the lamb on one of Gina’s properties … out of mobile phone range, or summint …

    PS Perhaps consider a donation, no matter how small, if able, if you value the work of this old school citizen funded investigative journalist.

  25. Patagonian

    Thanks Alcibiades, I have sat up til 1.00am to be able to read Michael West’s excellent report. How ironic it would be if non-existent water sinks this government!

  26. Alcibiades

    Insomnia …
    ‘Ghost Water’, somehow worth $80M, untaxed, the profits of shipped to identities unknown in the Cayman Islands tax haven ?

    Really, truly, LOVE the formulation of Wests … Question. Very thorough indeed. 🙂

    The internal link is also highly recommended re the deeper background & far wider ripples, Menindee Lakes, NSW government officials, ongoing ICAC investigation … :

    Tandou Can Do: double standards in water purchases in the Murray-Darling Basin

  27. Baby Jewels

    Do the LNP hold sway over Twitter as well?

  28. Henry Rodrigues

    Bill Shorten has been subjected to absolutely hostile questioning by Murdoch’s minions at every press conference as he campaigns around the country, yet not one penetrating question for Scumbag Scummo at his campaign appearances. The evil satrap, the crinkled scrote must really be smarting at Bill Shorten’s decision to give him the one finger salute. The water buyback ‘deals’ involve all of the coalition’s highly visible and loud mouthed arseholes starting with Bananas Joyce, yet Scummo has blithely ignored any mention so far and the media has fully accepted that as par for the course. Corruption in Australian politics ? Nah, doesn’t happen here Just ask Scummo and Murdoch..

  29. may hem

    i think LNP stands for “leave no prisoners”…… or is it “leave no pensioners”?

  30. Josephus

    ‘The Project’ commercial TV show prioritises inane laughter ; the panel even laughed during the water scandal item, though a bit less.

    It now appears that the water payment of $80m has been declared legal … meanwhile Assange’s character is rubbished, and Monsanto, which sprayed Agent Orange all over the jungle, maiming many as yet unborn, is not held to account, was not even named on ABC Radio today.

    One technique when citizens are outraged, say, by rations being cut at a refugee centre offshore, is to wait for the latest horror or scandal to drop down the memory hole; meanwhile popular disgust is distracted via vagueness and denial. Another technique is to saturate the news with the trivia of lone murderers, pub brawls and road rage.

    The ABC does not need to ape the popular media circus. Keep more to the big issues: hiding inflated water profits in the Caymans, paying the Christmas Island detention company millions so our dreadful PM can grandstand for a few minutes, investigate in depth corrupt politicians and companies, have pro bono lawyers to hand owing to the ABC cuts… Don’t dumb down so much. We need you.

  31. Kaye Lee

    A water-sharing plan for the Barwon-Darling was altered by the former New South Wales minister for primary industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, even though public consultations on the draft plan had ended and her bureaucrats had already submitted a draft for her to sign.

    Even though the public process had closed, an irrigator lobbyist, Ian Cole, who was chair of the body representing large irrigators, Barwon-Darling Water, ramped up his representations directly to the minister.

    The formulation of the plan is now a major element of an investigation by the Independent Commission against Corruption, which is also looking into the NSW government’s handling of allegations of water theft and meter tampering in the region.

    The inquiry is likely to examine the actions of two former NSW National party ministers: Hodgkinson, who retired from parliament in September 2017, and Kevin Humphries who was dropped as junior water minister in 2015 but who remains the local member for the state seat of Barwon.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/feb/08/nsw-minister-altered-barwon-darling-water-sharing-plan-to-favour-irrigators

    That is the same Katrina Hodgkinson who is now running as a candidate for Gilmore

  32. Kaye Lee

    Major crimes police raided the Norman farm at Goondiwindi last year after allegations of fraud relating to misuse of $25 million of taxpayer funds provided for water saving programs.

    And this week it was announced that WaterNSW would prosecute five people for water theft, after the NSW Ombudsman pointed out that – contrary to statistics WaterNSW provided to the government – no penalty enforcement notices for water theft had been issued between July 2016 and November 2017.

    Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on water “buybacks”, where the government has paid twice the going rate for water which effectively does not exist, except during heavy rainfall and peak water conditions.

    The first of these was the purchase of $34 million of supplementary water rights, described locally as “empty buckets of water”, sold to the federal government during the Millennium drought in 2008 by Tandou Station, 100 kilometres south-east of Broken Hill and just south of the Menindee Lakes. A further water sale to the federal government was made last year by the same station, $78 million for their entire 21,900-megalitre water right and for business readjustment.

    As was reported last month, that deal – personally negotiated by Barnaby Joyce – was at more than twice the market price for water.

    That’s $112 million of taxpayer funds to one station, Tandou. Webster Limited has owned Tandou since 2015. The company also owns several large cotton properties upstream at Bourke and Moree.

    Webster, a Tasmanian company, is also one of Australia’s biggest water traders. Its shareholders include Australian Food and Fibre, which is controlled by the Robinson family, a major donor to the National Party.

    Joyce confirmed in an interview with The Australian that the deal with Webster meant that some of the five lakes making up the Menindee storage system would be permanently “decommissioned”.

    The Australian reported that Joyce said letting the lakes dry out would save precious water for irrigators in the cotton communities of St George and Dirranbandi, in southern Queensland, and Bourke, Wee Waa and Moree in northern NSW. This was “a much better alternative than having to withdraw water entitlements from large cotton producers like Chinese-owned Cubbie Station, the biggest user of water in Australia”.

    https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/cry-me-a-river-mismanagement-and-corruption-have-left-the-darling-dry-20180226-p4z1uc.html

  33. Alcibiades

    Let us not forget Katrina’s & Barnabys pal, Gavin Hanlon

    In quick order, in 2017, Webster negotiated to sell its water licences near the Menindee Lakes. The former head of NSW Department of Primary Industry’s water division, Gavin Hanlon, wrote to the DAWR on 23 December 2016, suggesting it buy Tandou(At double the faux valuation). Recall that Gavin Hanlon is the disgraced public servant filmed offering debadged and confidential information to irrigators in the ABC report ‘Pumped’. He resigned and is now under investigation by ICAC.

  34. Kaye Lee

    Mal Peters, a highly regarded figure in rural politics who chaired the authority’s own advisory committee on the northern basin, said “When I started as chair, I had the impression that the MDBA was motivated by finding a balance between competing environmental, social and economic outcomes. However, it was my observation and impression that the MDBA’s direction changed when Barnaby Joyce became minister for agriculture and water resources. At that time it appeared to me that the MDBA shifted its approach further towards irrigation interests.”

    The ombudsman’s November 2017 water investigation progress report highlighted almost 20 occasions over two decades when the responsibility for managing ground and surface water resources was moved from one government agency to another.

    These, combined with internal restructures, had a devastating impact on staff, continuity of service, retention of expertise and the ability of the responsible agencies to maintain their systems and corporate strategy, the ombudsman said.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/17/barnaby-joyce-accused-of-tilting-murray-darling-authority-towards-irrigators

    Slashing the public service and installing compliant fellow travellers has come at a high price

  35. Michael Taylor

    In America the Dem voters are saying to Congress that we voted you in so you can do something about Trump.

    It’s going to be much the same here, one would hope: vote Labor in so they can expose this corruption and punish the perpetrators. If they don’t, I’ll be peed off.

  36. Kaye Lee

    They need to fix the mess in so many areas but no so urgent as our water management and emissions reduction.

    Morrison’s mobsters are quibbling about the cost of a life-saving operation. If we don’t have the operation, we will die. It is getting that serious.

    I am fairly certain that they have hugely overestimated the claimed reductions from the land-use sector – another area that requires scrutiny.

  37. Paul Davis

    Off this topic but the ‘great divide’ always follows party lines, it seems. Just like restrictions on tobacco and alcohol advertising, the LNP has complained about the nanny state and individual choice following Qld government seeking to ban junk food advertising from state owned property. Profit over kid’s health, always. Just wait until the community gets genuinely serious about corporate bookies wall to wall ads…

  38. terence mills

    During Insiders when this matter was being discussed, Barnaby texted Patricia Karvelas saying that he had nothing to do with the selection process for the buy-back scheme but he as minister responsible signed off on the purchases.

    So, is this how it works in this alternative universe ? They bring in the documents to Barnaby, highlight where he has to sign and then whip off a payment to a numbered bank account in the Cayman Islands and Bob’s your uncle.

    Good Grief !

  39. Alcibiades

    Michael,
    It is on. Praise Her, the Giant Spaghetti Monster in the Sky, your(our) prayers may well be answered,

    Calls mount for royal commission into controversial Murray-Darling water buybacks, as Labor sets government Monday deadline to answer questions about $200m water purchases in 2017 – The Graund

    Pressure continues to mount on the Morrison government over controversial water buybacks in 2017, with calls for both a royal commission and an immediate explanation about why officials dealt with a company domiciled in a tax haven.

    Labor has given Scott Morrison a deadline of Monday to address questions about the 2017 water buybacks, and has not ruled out establishing a royal commission probing the various transactions in the event Bill Shorten wins the 18 May contest…

    The Greens via senator Sarah Hanson-Young & the Centre Alliance senators via Rex Patrick have both joined & called upon Labor to call a Federal Royal Commission in to the matters, post election, if successful in forming government.

    Bingo on likely senate numbers for the RC.

    Barnaby ‘Caaarp! Joyce, completely uncontactable for some time now, managed to obtain brief mobile phone coverage in order to SMS Sundays Insiders program to convincingly declare “I know nothing!”, before again becoming, uncontactable.

    Unusually(?),the Murdochracy, Kerry Stokes Seven West Media, & Nine/Fairfax have yet to publish anything of note on the matter.

    @Terence
    Barnabys in it up to his eyeballs …

  40. Patagonian

    The Graund even had comments open on this story for a little while but they have now been removed as they were “opened in error”. Angus’ lawyers putting in extra hours over the Easter break perhaps? I wonder what Morrie is going to do to distract attention from this one.
    This has all the hallmarks of the Joyce/Campion scandal which was wilfully hushed up until after the bye-election.

  41. Alcibiades

    Concur Patagonian, deliberative censorship, obfuscation & omission from the Usual Suspects of the corporate MSM, now even Twitter, until after the inconvenience of an … election.

  42. Patagonian

    Not a word on The Australian of course. Those moronic below-the-liners who cheer on the ravings of McCrann and Kenny can best be summed up as follows:

    The forest was shrinking
    but the trees kept voting for the axe
    as its handle was made of wood
    and they thought it was one of them.

  43. Terence Mills

    If you listen to the conservative media over this water buy-back, it’s all a left-wing beat up and beneath the dignity of the coalition to even comment : interestingly those personally involved are very quick to threaten legal action to shut down discussion and avoid an enquiry.

    What I have gleaned is probably well known to other readers but here are my notes on what appears to be a very dodgy transaction.

    The purchase of water entitlements by Barnaby Joyce was from Eastern Australia Agriculture (EAA), a Cayman Islands domiciled company set up by Angus Taylor who is now the energy minister, but who at that time was an investment banker specialising in agriculture investments and tax minimisation schemes.

    We don’t know who is actually behind EAA now as that information is confidential in the Cayman’s and that is one of the reasons they are so successful as a tax-haven for the rich and famous. However, it is suggested that its shareholders were [are] a number of major investment funds based in Hong Kong and the UK. The early directors of EAA included Angus Taylor.

    So what did they buy for our $80 million ? There are no rivers or tributaries feeding into the MDB as far as I can see. What was being sold was the promise of water by way of overland flows, which are only available during floods and are unreliable to say the least. So the Murray-Darling river system gets the run-off from flooding which had previously been harvested in dams and ring-tanks on the land.

    The landowner (remember we didn’t actually buy the land just the promise of flood-plain run-off) still gets first dibs on the rain falling on the land and when the land is saturated you get overland run-off. So, the farmer can still grow winter crops such as wheat and summer crops including sorghum but he can no longer harvest and restrict the natural flow of the water.

    To benefit the MDB you first have to have flooding on the plains which runs-off into the river system and is not otherwise harvested by adjoining properties, so it’s an unreliable flow of water dependent on good summer rains and flooding : that it seems is what we got for our $80 million.

    EAA’s accounts show that it booked a $52m profit on the value of its water rights immediately after the government (that’s you and I) bought its water. A considerable capital gain which implies that we paid too much. But also raises another question, they pay any CGT before the money winged its way to the Cayman Islands ?

    Certainly an enquiry is needed and under our system. the only way we can get at the truth is through a Royal Commission.

    That’s how I see it !

  44. David Tyler

    ScoMo ranting last week – dismissing The Australia Institute as “left-wing activists” is a clue the Coalition may be under the pump (so to speak) from TAI’s excellent series of detailed investigations of rorting of the Murray Darling Basin scheme including its recent debugging watergate http://www.tai.org.au/content/debugging-watergate-interpreting-official-responses
    and the series which begins with http://www.tai.org.au/content/trickle-out-effect
    And Michael West continues to do a brilliant job of investigative reporting
    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/barnaby-joyce-angus-taylor-australia-and-the-caribbean/

  45. Josephus

    Alcibiades, I am proud to declare myself a fellow believer, though I did eat a few of Her tentacles last night with a delicious wild mushroom cream sauce.

  46. Alcibiades

    Terence,
    The flooding to fill the overflow damns only occurs once a decade or so(IIRC).

    The decision to approve the $80m offer made unsolicited, directly to a Caymans Island masked shelf company, was not taken by Cabinet, nor Cabinet even informed(IIRC). It was made by Barnaby alone, unilaterally executing his discretionary authority as relevant Minister, even whilst there were & are multiple possible perceptions of bias or conflict apparent.

  47. Alcibiades

    Josephus, 🙂
    May one & all indeed be Blessed & Enlightened by Her noodly appendage.

    My apologies re sometimes ill considered comments regarding misperceptions of defence of certain conduct by the State of Israel. Is regretfully now almost instinctively reactive given countless online encounters with, well, practitioners of ‘Hasbara’.

  48. Kaye Lee

    Documents produced to the Senate show that the department approached EAA some time before 9 February 2016 to ask if the company was now interested in selling its water.

    “Thank you for your communications regarding whether Eastern Australian Agriculture might be interested in offering some of its water entitlements for sale,” Bickford-Smith wrote on that date.

    This government’s penchant for “limited tender” is very concerning in many areas. It lacks transparency and any evaluation of value for money. Too often, it seems to have been used as a way to give benefit to donors.

  49. Alcibiades

    Entities who then perhaps use the profits from Commonwealth disbursements, to make even more … donations ?

  50. Patagonian

    Alcibiades,perhaps they’ve learnt from the relatively unsophisticated Parakeelia set-up and this is the result?

  51. Alcibiades

    Patagonian, see ‘artfully’ designed Indue Cashless Welfare Card for exhorbitant for profit overheads, imposed fees & priveledged corporate rorts, resulting in ‘straight back at ya’ donations to the ‘partee’, using Commonwealth funds re-processed & carefully cleaned by the local dry cleaner or … laundry ?

  52. Gangey

    Of course it was all legal.
    Dimitrious Gargasoulas was quite legally able to buy petrol for his car. It was what he did with that car afterwards that was so reprehensible.
    Apart from the violent murder of 6 innocent people, and the injury to many more, is there much difference?

  53. John Bond

    Today’s reading is from the Book of Fallopians, Ch.3

    V1 Here be an account of the remote province of Ostraya in the year 2019
    V2 And in that year did a great heat come upon the land, so that rivers did dry and creatures perish..
    V3 And many were discomfited for water, crying out day and night.
    V4 Yet it were seen that the farms of a very few mighty men had water in plenty.
    V5 The which caused divers among the people of the land to reason, saying, “let us talk to the Purple Bladder about this inequity, for he is sure to redress such wrongs.”
    V6 For an Bladder there was, ever swollen with fluids unto becoming purple, which dwelt under a great hat.
    V7 So the people went up unto the Purple Bladder, seeing its great hat from afar.
    V8 Then did the people call out, “Purple Bladder, we suffer, while the farms of a few mighty men have water in plenty. Surely this is unjust ?”
    V9 Then from within the hat was heard a voice, saying, “fools! Tax me not with the affairs of mighty men. For surely it is written, those who have more than enough shall be given ‘een more. Now depart forthwith, for I am in my cups.”
    V10 At the which, the people of the land did depart, lamenting.
    V11 So that the prophecy be fulfilled which saith “a purple pestilence shall descend upon you, feigning concern for thy welfare, yet fertile in ways to serve the rich ” .

    Here endeth the reading……

  54. Patagonian

    Yes Alcibiades, Indue is an outrage. Sydney Water was very nearly another, and Arthur the 20 million dollar man had his fingerprints all over that one but fortunately for him he suffered temporary Alzheimers and couldn’t recall. And then there’s the proposed flogging off of the visa application process for which there are only two tenders – Aust Post and Trembles’ mate Scott Briggs, who is the front-runner.

    The privatised system could include “premium services for high-value applicants”, different access for those able to pay more, as well as “commercial value-added services”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/feb/26/fears-privatised-visa-system-could-see-access-to-australia-sold-to-highest-bidder

    You would think that a government as obsessed as this one is about border security would be very leery of privatising something as important as visa application processing, but no, Von Dutts is all for it. Slimy deals for scaly mates.

    I hope Labor calls numerous RCs because this corruption needs to be completely rooted out and those involved in it held responsible for all to see. It would guarantee a generation in the wilderness. But I doubt Labor will do that as they don’t possess the sheer viciousness of the COALition, who will stop at nothing – TURC anyone? – to ensure they remain in power.

    I’ve lived through a few COALition governments but this one is the WORST I have ever seen.

  55. Kaye Lee

    I absolutely agree that this is the worst Coalition government I have lived through and, whilst Howard was bad, Abbott’s time as Opposition leader sent us into toxic.

  56. Zathras

    Abbott was the inevitable result of Howard and Morrison simply likewise – hollow vessels and captives of their financial masters to do their bidding. They have been morally corrupt for a long time and in other ways too it seems.

  57. David Tyler

    The Prime Minister’s claim that the record water purchase was covered in a Senate inquiry is false. There has been no Senate inquiry into strategic water purchases.
    The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources statement implying the water purchased can be used off property is misleading. Water can leave the properties owned by Eastern Australia Agriculture (EAA), but cannot be legally protected from extraction by other irrigators.
    TAI

  58. Alcibiades

    Oh yes, am getting the sense this rabbit hole runs very deep & wide … Peter Costello & the Future Fund enter into the mix now … hence all the abrupt brush off responses without any substance … yet a senior government source has broken from the pack & knows crucial details everyone else is oblivious to ?

    Angus tried to legally threaten & therefore silence Margot Kingston & Michael West … why didn’t he try the same when now US CBS owned Channel Ten via TheProject picked it up & broadcast on prime time tv ? Twitter has been directed more than once to shut down critical accounts, by whom ?

    Australia’s Future Fund benefitted ‘indirectly’ from a controversial $80 million water buy back The New Daily

    Liberal frontbencher Angus Taylor tells reporters that he “doesn’t know” who owned Eastern Australian Agriculture.

    But a senior government source says the Future Fund is involved via Pacific Alliance.

    I can tell you the Future Fund had an indirect interest. That I can tell you, via another fund,” he said.

    Asked if this was a reference to Pacific Alliance, he confirmed this was the case.

    “Correct. Pacific Alliance. If you look at it, one of the biggest investors in the future fund.”

    Even now the Murdochracy has published next to nothing other than today an opaque uninformative diversionary defence in the UnAustralian, Kerry Stokes Seven West Media & Nine/Fairfax are still only reporting on others reports with omissions, in the latest ABC article they even omit mentioning the Cayman Islands is a tax haven whilst reporting the absolute minimum information.

    And Morrison is simply a brazen outright liar.

  59. Alcibiades

    Explosive: Jommy Tee & Ronni Salt, the Twitter sleuths who first uncovered this controversy, report exclusively for Independent Australia.

    Angus Taylor, Barnaby Joyce and an $80 million water leak – By Jommy Tee and Ronni Salt, 22 April 2019, 4:30pm.

    Former Water Minister Barnaby Joyce spent $80 million buying back floodwater from a Cayman Islands company set up by Energy Minister Angus Taylor …

    ASIC records reveal that Taylor establishes two new companies & was the sole director and company secretary of both AMA and AAS and that the parent entity of both was the Cayman-based AML…

    …EAA is so bold that according to the Sydney Morning Herald, it enters into discussions in early 2010 with the Federal Government and makes an unsolicited offer — that offer is gobsmacking. The offer is that should EAA buy Cubbie, they would then sell 92 gigalitres of water to the Federal Government — contingent on a successful bid by EAA to purchase Cubbie.

    The Federal Government was quick to rule out the deal…

    …Taylor stays involved in EAA by joining the big league, still listed as part of EAA’s key management personnel but now as a director of no less than the Cayman’s based parent entity EAI. ASIC records reveal that he was listed as a director of the EAI in the EAA annual reports of 2011, 2012 and 2013…

    Recommended. Detailed timeline of events since 2007, Key identities named. Angus Taylor was initially both EAA’s company secretary and sole director, not as self-described a co-founder.

    #watergate in a tweet: a company with offices in Aust & in a tax haven, bought floodwater valued at $27m & later sold it to the Australian govt at river water prices for $80m. The Co. was set up by Angus Taylor who resigned before joining parl. & now has unknown beneficiaries.
    – Roman Quaedvlieg (@quaedvliegs) April 21, 2019

  60. Kaye Lee

    In Barnaby Joyce’s interview on RN this evening he said “These were the people offering water to us to buy … there were no other companies offering us water to buy.”

    Yet when this story was reported on last year……

    The department had received nine separate offers to sell water in the Condamine-Balonne system but instead of holding a tender decided to deal exclusively with EAA, which had the largest parcel of water rights.

    https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/well-well-well-tender-free-water-deal-not-great-taxpayers/

    Actually, the article from last year contained most of the info we are hearing now.

  61. Kaye Lee

    Lets not forget that video of Barnaby telling guys in the pub “We have taken water, put it back into agriculture, so we could look after you and make sure we don’t have the greenies running the show basically sending you out the back door, and that was a hard ask. A couple of nights ago on Four Corners, you know what that’s all about? It’s about them trying to take more water off you, trying to create a calamity. A calamity for which the solution is to take more water off you, shut more of your towns down.”

  62. andy56

    i listened to the barnaby interview. I think he is cactus. Not my fault he kept saying. I didnt ask any questions because it wasnt my job, he kept repeating.

    Somebody needs to show Joyce this youtube item. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QfXP5kDFqQ

    Corruption by omission is just the same as lying by omission. He needs to be sacked for admitting his only job was to sign things and not ask questions.

  63. Kaye Lee

    I’m not sure him saying we did what the Queensland Labor government told us to do will go over well as a defence either.

  64. Kaye Lee

    Yes Alcibiades. Four Corners costs us a lot in Royal Commissions when they actually could save us a lot – we could just use their evidence about so many things.

  65. Paul Davis

    Karvelas has been copping flak on Twitter and elsewhere for her lack of journalistic nouse and friendly treatment of the Mob, so the water story offered her a chance to piggyback on the hard yakka of some fair dinkum investigators and big note herself hectoring the imbecile Beetrooter on RN.

    And what an imbecile he proved to be. Deflect deflect what about Labor, arms length rubbish i know nothing and so on. Sounded like an Underbelly audition… waiting for him say its a fair cop gov lock me up. MorrisMinor must have decided to toss the f##ker under the bus by letting him anywhere near a microphone.

    Trish played her role competently though Ita might want a word tomorrow…

  66. Phil

    Karvelas is a Liberal party stooge… End of transmission.

  67. Alcibiades

    EAA donates $55K to NSW Liberal Party in the lead-up to the 2013 Election, prior to and after Angus Taylor is no longer listed as a director of the Cayman-based EAI in the EAA’s 2014 Annual Report and enters Federal Parliament in September 2013 as the Coalition, Liberal Member for Hume(NSW).

    Yet that 55K was comprised of two donations, one of which Angus made whilst still a director. Neat trick.

    This money flows around in circles, from the Cayman Islands tax havens unknown beneficiaries/investors, to the Coalition (NSW Liberal party), then from the Commonwealth coffers, unsolicited, back to the Cayman Islands, with key help from key players in NSW government & depts, Angus’ brothers related companies, conflicted EAI consultants, and Barnaby signs off on it against policy, without a cabinet decision or ever even being brought before cabinet … no questions asked ???

    Liberal frontbencher Angus Taylor tells reporters that he “doesn’t know” who owned Eastern Australian Agriculture or EAI, yet he founded the parent company EAI & was company secretary and initially for at least the first four months its sole director ?! Not as he previously self-declared a co-founder. Subsequently a director for a further six years, even whilst subsidiary EAI subsidiary EAA settled with the ATO for tax evasion. Yet never benefited, has no declarable interests, & ‘Knows Nothing’ ?

  68. LOVO

    Barnaby’s such a Latham. ….do you hear that Pauline…. think less than 4%

  69. Patagonian

    Barmy’s cactus, and he’s going to take the whole COALition shit-show down with him. .

  70. Zathras

    Most of these schemes usually come around to sneaky Party donations at some point.

    For example, some years ago the Exclusive Brethren were shown how to cash in on the Private School Funding gravy train by incorporating their schools into a campus structure, conveniently making them entitled to millions of taxpayer dollars.
    .
    Mysteriously they later formed a private shelf company in Tasmania soley to funnel a large donation into the Liberal Party coffers.
    This matter was raised in the Senate and recorded in Hansard but discussion was shut down and not reported in the media.

    Money laudering of taxpayers’ money by moving public funds into private hands and then back into their own pockets, whether it’s from schemes like this or from property developers or security companies, it’s a long term scam.

    No wonder they don’t want a retrospective Federal ICAC.

    I wonder how far this current scandal will go before the election or will they just stonewall as usual?

  71. Patagonian

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the $80 mill paid out by the government under Barmy’s watch is rather close to the combined purchase price of the two properties. Was his department upping the buyback rate during the negotiations to help out an old mate?

    The smell emanating from this has put the stench of millions of dying fish in the shade.

  72. Alcibiades

    Yup, & was inclusive of the water storage physical infrastructure valued ~$16m, yet which is in effect, in reality, retained by EAA/EAI on their landhold, ’cause it ain’t ‘water flows’, to capture future one off floodwater & flog it again. Nice lark.

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