Five months ago, the then Minister for Water Resources, David Littleproud commissioned Mick Keelty, the Interim Inspector General of the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to undertake an inquiry into the impact of distribution inflows to the southern basin along with the impact of state water shares resulting from the reserves required under the agreement.
After a number of town hall meetings and 345 individual submissions, the final report was submitted to the Minister (now Keith Pitt). That report has now been released to the public with the Federal Government agreeing to all five recommendations included in the report.
Those recommendations are:
- The MDBA should undertake further analysis of the causes of reduced inflows from the northern Basin and the extent to which this is affecting State water shares.
- To increase trust in and transparency about water-sharing, the MDBA should provide clear and easily accessible information about Special Accounting measures, including the circumstances under which they are applied and how they are used to determine State allocations.
- The MDBA should clearly communicate the results of its examination of underuse of allocations and compare them with the submissions made to this inquiry so that accurate feedback can be provided to the community.
- The Basins Officials Committee (BOC) should consider implementing a single authoritative platform that combines information currently available on the various Commonwealth and State websites, to provide higher levels of transparency and trust and to improve water literacy.
- The BOC should consider ways through which States and agencies could work together across their respective jurisdictions to include water literacy in high school and higher education curriculums, including VET, in regional areas.
The report itself comprised 55 pages where all contributing aspects have been discussed at length.
In making an announcement of the report, local Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum said, “ This is the inquiry the irrigators involved in the ‘Convoy to Canberra’ were calling for. They were desperate for this work to be done by someone highly respected and they wanted Mr Keelty to do the work.
“It is obviously a problem when someone as capable as Mick Keelty can spend five months investigating the flow regime within the Lower Basin and one of the major recommendations is a call for more data, more transparency and more accountability. “ Mr Drum said.
While the report identifies all of the problems associated with the MDBA, it does not address the single biggest issue facing the plan, that all states act under different sets of rules and regulation that frequently are to the disadvantage of the Victorian irrigators.
The report in full can be seen at https://www.igmdb.gov.au/reviews