Media Releases | 31st Jan, 2019

Basin Plan Royal Commission delivers urgent wake-up call for Prime Minister

The excoriating findings of the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission must jolt Australia’s Prime Minister into action to fix the wide-spread failings killing our country’s most important river system, Environment Victoria said today.

“Royal Commissioner Walker has blown the lid off the epic failure of leadership in Canberra and affirmed what people on the ground have been saying for years,” said Environment Victoria’s new CEO, Jono La Nauze. “Today all around the Basin people are saying ‘finally, someone has listened.’

“The report confirms the amount of water to be saved under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is a compromise on a compromise. It was not what the best environmental science said; it was a political fix to curry favour with vested interests, at the cost of the health of our environment and the rivers that keep regional communities afloat.

“The strength of the language in the report should make clear this is not a case of minor bureaucratic bungling. This has been a systemic, bipartisan failure to look after our most important river system.

“The Commissioner makes it clear that the approach taken by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has been unlawful, short-sighted and has catastrophically short-changed native fish and internationally recognised wetlands.

“Climate change is going to wreak havoc on our water resources. It beggars belief that this fundamental consideration was left out of the Basin Plan.

“The tragedy unfolding on the Darling River is no accident. It is the inevitable consequence of decisions taken by the MDBA and successive Water Ministers – decisions described by the Commissioner as unlawful, deplorable and representing maladministration.

“The Commission also finds that Victoria has dragged its heels on finding the further 450 GL of water needed to improve environmental outcomes. We call on Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville to address this issue in the Andrews government’s new term in office.

“Ultimately, however, the buck stops in Canberra. The MDBA is hopelessly compromised and requires new leadership and new direction.

Environment Victoria calls on the Prime Minister and Bill Shorten to:

  • Revise the Basin Plan to ensure there is enough water in our rivers for wildlife and communities to survive and thrive in the face of climate change;
  • Establish a federal Environment Protection Authority with powers to independently audit the implementation of the Basin Plan;
  • Install new leadership at the Murray Darling Basin Authority and guarantee its independence in law.

“Now is not the time for excuses or buck-passing. The Darling is dying before our eyes and the Coorong is on its knees. Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten and all Basin states need to pledge to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission,” said Mr La Nauze.

For interview and further comment

Jono La Nauze, Environment Victoria CEO

Mobile: 0402 904 251

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