CONCERNS have been raised about the government's decision to bundle the "conflicting" portfolios of water and resources under one minister.
However, the Prime Minister has defended the move, stating the two portfolios would not clash under newly-minted frontbencher Keith Pitt.
Lock the Gate national coordinator Camrel Flint said the combination of the portfolios was "a massive conflict".
"We need a water minister who can stick up for farmers and communities against mining giants," Ms Flint said.
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"This is a bad move for the federal government, particularly at a time when the nation is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record and we need a strong advocate for our water."
Ms Flint said across the country, resource companies were "throwing their weight around" to get preferential access to water.
"In north-west NSW, we've seen Whitehaven paying three times what farmers can afford for groundwater entitlements during an unprecedented drought," she said.
"In Queensland, coal seam gas drilling has already drained 127 water bores in the Western Downs, with the Queensland government predicting a total of 571 will run dry in the future."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison dismissed the criticism and rejected the two portfolios were incompatible under one minister.
"No [there's no conflict], because the authorities the minister has when it comes to water and resources will be advised by separate departments," Mr Morrison said.
"We all have difficult matters that we must arbitrate on and I have no doubt that Keith will ensure that he manages those issues."
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack had "every confidence" in the Queensland MP to manage the two portfolios.
"As a former technical engineer he has the depth of knowledge and he has the experience to do the job required in resources and in water," Mr McCormack said.
Labor environment and water spokesperson Terri Butler said the appointed proved the government had no long-term plan for water management.
"It looks like Keith Pitt did a deal as part of the National's leadership chaos and now he has been gifted the water portfolio," Ms Butler said.
"The real problem is they have no plan to protect Australia's water resources."
"The Morrison Government's failures on water management are driven by incompetence, infighting and self-interest, not which portfolios they chaotically lump together."
The story Conflict concerns: water and resources sitting under new minister first appeared on Farm Online.