Chairman - Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA)
My friend Maria Riedl has sent me a copy of the letter she has forwarded to Craig Knowles. Miss Eagle's with Maria on this. Maria is a resident of the Murray-Darling Basin. Miss Eagle has lived in the Basin in two states (Queensland and New South Wales) and is a regular visit to the MDB in the state of Victoria. Highlighting below is mine not Maria's
Dear Mr Knowles,
I would like to express my incomprehension and dismay upon reading the article that I attach here regarding your appeared non-support for the present and past MDB board. I am very unhappy about what it is saying about your lack of support for the present MDBA Board! I surely hope the media is wrong in reporting this.
If it is true that you fail to support the present members of the MDBA board, then I suggest that you resign forthwith. I am very serious about this. Mike Taylor did a great job, as did Rob Freeman and for you to criticise them and the rest of the board by omitting to support them publicly and in fact, indicating that you do not support them is totally unacceptable and borders on political intrigue! Are you independent? It is more likely that you are not by you failure to indicate support. You have come in late and you have not had the privilege and guts to face angry and worried irrigators who have been led up the garden path through uncertainty and government and politicians ineptitude. Where is your independence? Are you non-compliant with what you have to do as a member of this board? I wonder.
I have full confidence in all of the board, including the departed Mike Taylor and Diana Day and laud their excellent handling of a very difficult issue. I would also like you to understand that they took the time and trouble to go around the country with a document that they did NOT have to write, initiating discussion and trying to gauge community concerns about the up and coming MDB Plan which includes a cap on the entire system. They have taken on board these concerns and have tried their utmost to ensure that all voices are heard and actually listened to. I believe that they are to be praised for doing their job so thoroughly in the public domain-especially by yourself.
What would have happened if they just produced the Plan without any previous documents for us to look at and pick apart and attack, or praise? A complete disaster, and you know this, as did the MDBA board. The willingness to face crowds of angry, frustrated, concerned people who rely on the MDB is to be commended.
The willingness to listen and to take notes and to allow people their time to speak out actually reflects a return to democratic ideals. Have a read of the Aarhus Convention which I attach, and though Australia is not a signatory it has sat in on some sessions and should become one! It talks about the public’s access to information, access to decision-making and access to environmental justice. The board has been trying their hardest to do this.
The fact that the Water Act seems to be of concern and that it might need tweaking here and there does not and should not belie the fact that the environment is SILENT and it is always considered LAST, always. To say that this Act is focuses on environment cannot be considered as totally true. It does state that social and economic factors also have to be considered but ultimately this Act is about ensuring the SURVIVAL of the Murray-Darling Basin, its waters, its environment, its sustainability but NOT excluding the social and economic impacts of the final MDB Plan and cap.
The whole MDB system is over-allocated. We ALL know this and admit this. It is time to consider the impacts of NOT DOING ANYTHING or continuing along the ‘business-as-usual’ path which is allowing, encouraging development and using resources in one lifetime, without giving weight to environmental sustainability and the needs of future generation both natural and human.
What happened to the triple bottom line? There are plenty of books I have on what happens if the environment is not considered in law. Constantly mitigating impacts is most certainly a ‘business-as-usual’ line that political parties and politicians push and thus avoid having to address the problem that future generations will face if we do nothing. Examples I can highlight are the Victorian Desal Plant and the North-South pipeline, both of which are disastrous decisions, environmentally, socially and economically! They failed to adhere to the NWI and consider recycling and storm-water harvesting in the first instance. Simply FAILED!
I am studying for a Master of Environmental Law through ANU and my Water Resource Law professor is Alex Gardner who has just written a textbook about his subject. I believe you should contact him and ask his advice. (Please note: Maria had included contact details which Miss Eagle has edited out.)
I do not believe that you should allow yourself to be distracted by politics. I do not support any criticism of the present board and those departed. I do not believe that you should put on your politicians hat but I do believe that you should stop listening to others and listen to your board and publicly express your confidence in them otherwise the final MDB Plan will be totally ineffectual and this is what YOU PERSONALLY will be remembered for.
Look at what your role is meant to be, as chairman, and start acting as a member of a team that has done all the hard work. You could learn a lot from them. I also believe that since you were a politician before, this in itself might make you possibly biased and therefore I think you should seriously consider whether you are the right person for this job in the first place and stop implying that the others are not as good as you are. That is the impression I get and I am sure others get. Rare is the politician I have respect for, as they swing with the breeze to get re-elected and to stay in power.
Do not I implore you do this with the MDB board members, and do not stuff up the MDB Plan, which is trying its hardest to address the OVER-ALLOCATION in the Murray-Darling Basin. That is the reason why there is going to be a MDB Plan and don’t forget it.
I look to see public support from you for the rest of the board members, dispersing any rumours that they will be sacked or encouraged to resign and they lack your confidence. I think it is the other way around-I lack confidence in YOU, not the others who I have met and who have shown themselves to be resilient and fair in the face of anger and adversity. Time to bite the bullet and get on with the job that the board has to do. Stop prevaricating and get on with it. We need the over-allocations fixed and we need certainty and fairness and we need states to ensure that their Water Acts comply with the NWI and the new MDB Plan ASAP.
The board is not liable for the mismanagement by government of the MDB. That is continued government failure, both State and Federal, to address an issue they have been aware of since the 1990s and have prevaricated about because of political agendas. Your job is to ensure a balanced MDB Plan that addresses the over-allocation and inter-generational equity and environmental sustainability of the MDB.
Attached are some documents that I think you should look at as they indicate that doing nothing will leave a terrible, avoidable legacy.
Please contact me if you wish.
Maria attached six documents to the letter:
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|Convention on Access to info public participation in decision-making_Aarhus_25 June 1998.pdf|
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