Just before Parliament finished up for the year, there were a few questions put to Barnaby Joyce in question time over what his portfolio responsibility in relation to water was. As part of the deal Malcolm Turnbull made with the Nationals after becoming Liberal leader, the Agriculture Minister took responsibility for water from Environment Minister Greg Hunt. But it was still unclear exactly what aspects of water policy Joyce would be responsible for.

In response to a question on notice from Senate estimates, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has confirmed Joyce is now responsible for “water policy and matters” but not “environmental water use and resources related to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder”. This means Joyce has oversight over a number of pieces of legislation, including the Water Act 2007 (but not part 6) and various sewerage agreement acts.

Clear as mud!

Another interesting tidbit from estimates documents is that when Communications Minister Mitch Fifield took responsibility for the Arts portfolio, including copyright and classification, the latter up until that point had been known as “censorship”, but “the opportunity was taken to update the language to better describe the matter,” apparently. Censorship of censorship at work.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey