Leader of the National Party Barnaby Joyce (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Did Scott Morrison want the last sitting period before the winter recess -- some speculate the last sitting period before an early election -- to be dominated by topics from when Julia Gillard was prime minister, topics most of us -- whether Liberal, Labor, Green, conservative, News Corp, whoever -- thought were settled?

How about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which was legislated in 2012? Sure there’s been debate and changes over how to achieve water savings -- with the Coalition preferring to waste money in irrigation infrastructure ahead of water buybacks, and NSW allowing irrigators to rort with impunity -- but the broad principle that the system needed to be managed to provide environmental flows along its length and into South Australia has been settled for nearly a decade.

Or maybe not so much: the Nationals in the Senate, led by Bridget McKenzie and Matt Canavan, tried to use a bill finally toughening up enforcement provisions in the plan to crack down on water theft to gut the plan and prevent Commonwealth water buybacks. Indeed, their amendments went further and would have freed up the funding for water buybacks to be pork-barrrelled into other uses.