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South Australian Government rips off the Coorong, environment and taxpayers, secret audit reveals

Media Release
Sarah Hanson-Young 21 Dec 2018

The Greens have responded to the release of a secret Ernst & Young Audit report that has shown state governments, including South Australia have been mismanaging taxpayer funded environmental water throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, creating “unique fraud risks”.

“This audit shows the environment and taxpayers continue to be ripped off by both State and Federal Governments, including here in South Australia,” Greens spokesperson for Environment & Water Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“The SA Government must answer to taxpayers and respond to audit findings that shows water purchased for the Coorong and environmental flows has instead been taken for industry purposes, leaving the internationally significant wetlands to suffer.

“The SA Water Minister must reveal who in his department knew of this, how much it has cost taxpayers and what action has been taken.

“Once again, we have another report showing that the Basin Plan is being mismanaged and is at risk of defrauding taxpayers. The Plan is meant to be securing water for the environment to keep the river system alive, and yet again we see it is riddled with fraud and water theft.

“Tax payers deserve better, we need a healthy river – it is the lifeblood of our country.

“These audit documents, hidden from the public, until the Greens pushed for release in the Senate, show that environment water worth $3.2 billion has been mismanaged by state agencies and private landholders, exposing the Commonwealth to “unique fraud risks”. It is South Australia, our Lower lakes and the Coorong that will suffer as a result.

“We have an international obligation to protect the Coorong wetland and lower lakes at the end of the Murray River system, but the South Australian government is more interested in cost cutting than saving our Murray and delivering the environmental water it needs.”

“The Coorong is unique and a special place for South Australians, we need a healthy river which means more water.

“The audit by Ernst & Young has produced more proof the Basin Plan is being mismanaged and is failing. We need a proper plan, free of corruption, mismanagement and that puts the environment back at the centre."

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