2 August 2017
Conservation Councils call for judicial inquiry into Murray-Darling management, removal of Nationals MPs from water portfolios
Five state and territory Conservation Councils are calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to institute a judicial inquiry into the water management in the Murray-Darling Basin and the implementation of the Basin Plan in response to revelations by the ABC Four Corners program.
The Prime Minister has ordered the Murray Darling Basin Authority to investigate allegations of maladministration and potential corruption raised in the Four Corners program on July 24 titled ‘Pumped – Who is benefitting from the millions spent on the Murray Darling?’.
The Conservation Councils have no confidence, however, the MDBA can conduct an adequate review, calling instead for a fully independent inquiry.
“Your announcement … that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority will lead an independent review into the allegations made in the program is seriously compromised,” the letter states.
The letter goes on to say: “The close relationship of the National Party with the irrigation industry is a key concern for us. This relationship was exposed by recent public comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce in response to the Four Corners program.
“The Conservation Councils are calling for a judicial inquiry into the water management in the Murray-Darling Basin and implementation of the Basin Plan, with the ability to call witnesses and provide protection for whistle blowers.
“The current and proposed membership of the MDBA board, under the watch of Minister for Agriculture and Water, Barnaby Joyce, is not a balanced representation of expertise and interests.
“We also call for the water portfolio to be removed from the National Party both federally and in NSW while they continue to demonstrate disregard for both the health of our rivers and the integrity of the Basin Plan.”
For further comment: Craig Wilkins 0417 879 439