The Australian Greens are calling on Water Minister David Littleproud to stand aside after fraud charges were laid against his cousin John Norman, who for seven years of ripped off river communities and the taxpayer.
"Now that charges have been laid, the Water Minister should step aside to avoid any perceived conflict of interest. This water thief has stolen water, defrauded the taxpayer and must front the full force of the law," Greens Murray Darling Basin spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
"It shouldn't matter how big or rich you are, or who your family is, if you rip off the river and taxpayer you must be held to account
"Charges laid against John Norman - the Water Minister's cousin - should send shockwaves through the big corporate irrigators throughout in the Murray Darling Basin. The message must be clear: if you steal water from the environment and your neighbours, there will be consequences.
"The Murray Darling Basin Plan is in tatters, thanks to water theft, meter tampering, and special treatment from the Nationals to their big corporate irrigator mates - and family members. No longer are river communities going to sit by while corporate greed kills our environment and drains our water supply.
"Barnaby Joyce is out today trying to distract the nation from what is really going on. Instead of taking more water off of the environment, we need to recover the water stolen by big corporate irrigators.
"Water theft, meter tampering and rorting the Murray Darling Basin Plan has serious repercussions for river communities - who are now in the throes of drought. It cannot be tolerated and perpetrators must be held accountable."