The Productivity Commission’s scathing report into the Murray Darling Basin Plan shows it is failing and needs serious reform and transparency, the Greens say.
“The Productivity Commission’s scathing assessment of the Murray Darling Basin Plan is summed up perfectly in one sentence:
“Recovering water through efficiency measures has become increasingly divorced from the environmental outcomes it is meant to achieve.”(p22)
“This report is a damning assessment of the Federal Government and its agencies’ mismanagement of the Murray Darling Basin. It shows that the original purpose of the Plan to restore the heath of the River has been undermined and the money spent is going not to the environmental outcomes but instead filling then pockets of irrigators,” Greens environment and water spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
“The $13 billion of taxpayers money is not going where it was intended. Political interference from both state and federal governments has undermined the independence of the Murray Darling Basin Authority, making it an agency of government, not an Authority that looks after the River.
“No wonder the Government is trying to bury this report. Releasing it on a Friday before the Australia Day long weekend, shows just how desperate the Minister is to keep Australians in the dark.
“The Productivity Commission makes a number of salient points, but overall the scathing assessment shows that river communities and the environment have been failed by the mismanagement of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and urgent reforms are needed.
“The report calls out the lack of independence and teeth of the Murray Darling Basin Authority, showing it cannot be trusted to enforce the management rules of the River. They have a conflict of interest and are not genuinely independent. The Basin states, Federal Government and Murray Darling Basin Authority have ignored what this Plan was set out to do – improve the environmental health of the River.
“We need a cop on the beat – a independent authority with teeth – that can crack down on the mismanagement and corruption ignored by Governments, bureaucrats and corporate irrigators. We need an urgent Royal Commission.
“The Productivity Commission again proves that water buy backs are the most economically efficient and environmentally effective way to restore health to the River.
“With the River in environmental collapse, those responsible must be held to account. The big cotton lobby, corruption, mismanagement and lack of transparency have undermined the Plan that was meant to save the Murray Darling Basin. Heads should roll. Only a Federal Royal Commission can sort through the rot. It’s clear the Water Minister and his corporate irrigator mates cannot be trusted.
“People in river communities are without clean drinking water and the environment is suffering. We need urgent action now to reverse the River’s fate before it is too late.”