Look into policy
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority was established through Commonwealth legislation — the Water Act 2007.
Is this the worst example of public policy since the Australian Wool Corporation administered the minimum reserve price and the reserve price schemes? There is every possibility that this will prove to be the case and that the consequences on this occasion will be far greater than they were for the wool industry.
If we are to avoid these consequences, we need a serious review of the Water Act and the basin plan.
A meeting recently of the federal and state water ministers degenerated and did none of the participants any favours and embarrassed all of those communities and constituents that are affected by the basin plan.
Far more important than the language and behaviour is the message that they convey — that those entrusted with managing an important and expensive project for the Australian community are unable to communicate in a civil and intelligent manner.
Under these circumstances, what hope is there of a sensible outcome? This all came about because of the proposed changes to the amount of water recovered from irrigators for environmental flows.
The Murray-Darling Basin comprises one-seventh of Australia’s land mass and it is one of the most productive and important agricultural regions in our country.
Regional communities spread over four states are now uncertain about their future, they distrust their elected representatives and they are very angry.
This situation arose because of a plan that was developed and executed without all the facts being tabled, in a politically expedient process.
The consultative process was hasty, abhorrent and did not fully take into consideration the socio-economic impacts on the affected communities.
Harold Clapham, Deniliquin