The federal opposition says the Morrison Government is taking a “paternalistic” approach to Aboriginal water rights. 

First Nations groups want the government to deliver $40 million that promised by the former water minister David Littleproud to buy water in 2018.

There is strong speculation that the government will spend the money on initiatives other than water ownership, such as employment programs.

Concern has also been raised that the funding will be re-directed to buy water on behalf of Aboriginal people. 

Shadow minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said First Nations people want to make their own choices. 

“Aboriginal people are perfectly capable of managing finances that are paid to them,” she said.

“They're very organised in the basin, they understand the significance of the basin probably more than anyone. 

“It just seems to me to be incredibly paternalistic if it isn't what it was supposed to be. 

“The government should be answering questions about where the funding has gone, if it still exists and why hasn't it flowed.”

Current water minister Keith Pitt has issued a statement saying: “We continue to consult with peak Indigenous groups to finalise an agreement and seek consensus”.

“The government fully intends to deliver on its commitment,” he said.