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SA minister talked to over tirade: premier

AAP logoAAP 19/11/2016

South Australian Water Minister Ian Hunter has been reminded of his obligations to "behave appropriately" after an apparent tirade directed at Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Premier Jay Weatherill says he has spoken with Mr Hunter but has played down the incident, calling reports of it largely rumours, and says no complaint has been raised with him about the state minister's actions.

Mr Hunter is thought to have levelled insults at Mr Joyce and other state water ministers and their staff at a dinner in Adelaide on Thursday night ahead of a meeting in Adelaide on Friday which discussed progress on the River Murray rescue plan.

Mr Hunter was angry at the lack of action by the federal government to provide an extra 450 gigalitres of environmental water flows down the river.

Mr Weatherill said South Australia was determined not to be dudded by the commonwealth on the rescue plan and would fight for what was promised.

He has vowed to raise the issue personally with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"The upstream states have been damaging and depleting this river for over a century," he told reporters on Saturday.

"We have a historic agreement and just because it's rained for a few months the Liberal party has seized on the opportunity to walk away."

Mr Weatherill said Mr Hunter felt passionately about the river and protecting the state's interests.

But he said he had reminded the minister of his obligations to behave appropriately and to not use foul language.

"That's what I expect of him," Mr Weatherill said.

"I've simply repeated the advice that I've given to all of my ministers."

After Friday's meeting Mr Joyce said it was "bleeding obvious" that extra environmental flows down the Murray could not be delivered under the current deal.

He said the legislation required there be no social or economic impacts to river communities and that was simply not possible.

In regard to the clash with Mr Hunter, Mr Joyce said "what was in the room will stay in the room" but called for him to apologise to some of those involved.

"It's quite obvious you can't go through a room full of staff screaming at them," he said.

Mr Hunter declined to comment on his actions or what was said but pledged to continue to stand up for SA's interests.

"I'm not going to talk about what I might have said in a private meeting, that's not what I do," he said.

But opposition leader Steven Marshall said Mr Hunter should resign or be sacked.

"It's a massive test of character for the premier. We think that this was completely unacceptable, this sort of language," Mr Marshall told AAP.

"If this is the new low standard for Labor government ministers in South Australia then heaven help us."

However, Mr Marshall said on the issue of extra water for the Murray the opposition was in full agreement with the state government.

"We've negotiated a deal. This is an important, historic agreement that has been reached and there is no case whatsoever to renege on that agreement."

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