Monday, 21 November 2011

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan now an unprincipled and corrupted document - before it is officially published!

21st November 2011

Basin Plan: “compromised” and “corrupted” 
Accusations have been flowing freely from all sides, including from the Chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, with respect to the leaking of the Draft Basin Plan.

Following a recent meeting with the Federal Minister for water, Tony Burke, coordinator of Fair Water Use, Dr Ian Douglas, reported to FWU members that the Draft Plan was expected to be a “highly compromised” document, with the Authority failing in its statutory responsibility to manage the Murray-Darling river system in the interests of all Australians, rather than to the benefit of a vocal section of the irrigation sector and, of late, the shareholders of predatory coal seam gas miners.
Dr Douglas commented this morning,  “As a result of concerted pressure applied by commercial and political interests, the Basin Plan is now an unprincipled and corrupted document: one which will endorse the expenditure of many billions of taxpayer dollars to source only 300 gigalitres more water than the Productivity Commission has calculated would be achieved by buy-back alone, and one which seems certain to fail the environment and citizens of Australia.”
“The majority of the irrigation community seem to be accepting of the need for meaningful change, and many have made the transition from wasteful irrigation techniques - often at their own expense.”

“However a powerful minority, mostly involved with flood or open-furrow irrigation of water-hungry crops, appear to view the river system as a golden egg-laying goose, and will continue to resist any meaningful attempt to address the environmental degradation of the Basin.”

“In addition, it seems that Basin state governments, largely to blame for the mess that our rivers are in, 
due to rampant over-allocation of water licences, have successfully pressured the Authority to maintain water use at close to previous levels; most cynically by increasing groundwater extraction from the Basin.”

Dr Douglas concluded, “Under Craig Knowles, the 
Murray-Darling BasinAuthority has apparently abandoned any attempt to draft a sincere Basin Plan. Fair Water Use has serious concerns that, in responding to political and corporate lobbying, Mr Knowles has compromised the independence and integrity of the Authority”.

Authorised by:Ginny Brown
Media Coordinator

Fair Water Use (Australia)+61 (0)8 8398 0812
PO Box 384, Balhannah, South Australia 5242

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