The Murray-Darling Basin is a key resource for Australian agriculture and communities stretching from Queensland to South Australia. The Basin Plan is the culmination of years of negotiation between the states and the Federal Government to create a pragmatic sustainable rehabilitation model for the Murray Darling Basin. At the core of the model was the equal distribution of water take for the economy, community and environment. This distribution between these interests is essentially enforced through a licencing scheme for irrigators and environmental water buy-backs by government.
Last week ABC’s Four Corners aired an investigative piece that demonstrated alleged violations of the Basin Plan by several irrigators. The Plan is designed to balance interests in water and the allegations of water mismanagement and theft discredit the Plan and degrade trust in the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. As a consequence, yesterday the Federal Government announced that it will seek state consent to conduct an independent Basin-wide review by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority is legally permitted to review the Plan under the Water Act 2007 (Cth).
The findings of the Review are expected by 15 December 2017.
National Water Reform Review
The Productivity Commission is currently receiving submissions into the National Water Reform. Following the disbanding of the National Water Commission, the Productivity Commission is now responsible for the triannual assessment of the National Water Initiative by the end of 2017. This assessment includes reviewing the progress of states in meeting requirements under the National Water Initiative and the National Water Commission’s recommendations from 2014.
The Commission is also responsible for delivering a review into the effectiveness of the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan by the end of 2018.
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