News

Joyce to have minister’s ear

By Country News

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is going to ‘‘sit back and listen’’ to Barnaby Joyce in his new job as special drought envoy.

The former deputy prime minister has wasted no time firing up debate after calling for environmental water to be diverted from the Murray-Darling Basin to help farmers struggling with drought.

While Mr Joyce will report directly to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Mr Littleproud said he would be working closely with the former agriculture minister.

‘‘Barnaby would be a big asset to be able to make sure we work in co-ordinating our drought response,’’ Mr Littleproud said.

‘‘He’s (Mr Joyce) out there, walking around the streets, talking to the businesses, talking to the farmers, getting an understanding. We’re going to sit back and listen.’’

Mr Joyce’s idea for drought support by taking water away from the Murray-Darling Basin received heavy backlash from environmental groups last week.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young was scathing about the plan.

‘‘Barnaby Joyce has used his first day on the job to go back to his old tricks — trying to rip water off of the environment,’’ Ms Hanson-Young said.

Nationals cabinet minister Matt Canavan said Mr Joyce’s idea should be considered.