Weatherill says he does not support Ian Hunter’s use of rude language at a dinner with other water ministers at Rigoni’s Bisto in Adelaide on Thursday ahead of a meeting to discuss the River Murray rescue plan.
But he says all South Australians have a right to be as angry as Hunter at a lack of action by the Federal Government to provide an extra 450 gigalitres of environmental water flows down the river.
“We’ve been dudded for 100 years on the river. They’re up to it again and we’re calling them on it and they don’t like it,” the premier told FIVEaa radio today.
“The only thing this federal liberal government understands is when you actually serve it up to them.”
Hunter has apologised for using strong language, including at acting Prime Minister and federal Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce.
He also reportedly used the “c” word in relation to state counterpart Lisa Neville – an allegation he has denied.
Joyce said today the Federal Government was not reneging on the river rescue plan but was trying to meet the legislative requirement that it must not cause social or economic harm to river communities.
“When people say you’re welching on the plan, you’ve got to understand this is the plan. It’s not policy, it’s the law, it’s actually what’s written,” he told ABC radio.
“What I was proposing to minister Hunter, I said my ears are open. I’m all open for ideas – what have you got in mind?”
Assistant Water Resources Minister and SA Senator Anne Ruston made a formal complaint to the premier about Hunter’s language and said he and the premier both know nothing can be done with the river unless they agree to it.
“I was disappointed because I thought Ian, like me, was genuinely in this negotiation to try and deliver the outcome that we all want,” she told ABC radio.
Weatherill, Hunter and the rest of the ministry are in Whyalla today for a community cabinet meeting.
– with AAP
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