Member for Farrer Sussan Ley says it “makes sense” to move part of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to the Murrumbidgee Valley.
The health minister said people who make decisions about the basin need to live in the area to get an understanding of communities supported by irrigation.
“Consultation with communities cannot be as good as it could be if they’re not there,” Ms Ley said.
“Most irrigators in southern NSW live in my electorate of Farrer and it makes sense for the (basin) authority to have a presence in towns on the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers.”
The newly-returned Federal Government has yet to sit in Canberra, but Ms Ley said moving at least part of the MDBA was on her list of things to discuss with Agriculture Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
“I want it to move out of Canberra and it should move out of Canberra, but the question is what resources should we move?” Ms Ley said.
“There’s an argument for some resources to move even if the headquarters remain,” she said.
“If people have to travel from Canberra to consult with communities they can’t hope to understand what it’s like to live there.”
However, Mr Joyce was tight-lipped on whether the MDBA would move to the Murrumbidgee Valley.
A spokeswoman for Mr Joyce said no decision had yet been made regarding the relocation of the MDBA.
“Minister Joyce and The Nationals believe strongly in decentralisation of government agencies to help strengthen regional communities across Australia,” she said.
According to Mr Joyce’s spokeswoman, several agencies have either relocated or are in the process of relocating to regional centres.
This includes the Rural Industries Research and Development Council which is set to come to Wagga.
“The Coalition Government committed to improving the operations of rural research and living and working where the boots hit the dirt complements that commitment,” Mr Joyce’s spokeswoman said.