Drum calls for MDBA to disband after unallocated basin water was revealed

By Rodney Woods

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum is calling for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to disband and for its responsibilities to to be handled by different organisations.

Speaking in parliament last week, Mr Drum said breaking up the MDBA was essential in order to create a more transparent and accountable regime when it comes to how the basin's water issues are managed.

“What we find is that there is an enormous amount of complexity, confusion and issues around the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, shown out by Mr (Mick) Keelty ... who was giving evidence to the Senate yesterday (May 12),” he said.

“Mr Keelty was more or less talking about the responsibility of the authority and he was mentioning the fact ... that there was evidence that came from the public suggesting there might be 700 Gl of unallocated water every single year.”

Mr Drum said after Mr Keelty's discussions with the MDBA, Mr Keelty's report was quoted as saying the figure was only 50 Gl per year.

“But now we understand, over the last couple of weeks the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has effectively acknowledged that the amount of unallocated water is more like 375 Gl per year,” he said.

“This is an enormous amount of water.

“Astonishingly, Mr Keelty is now calling for a single source of truth.

“That is a blunt statement because it obviously means we don't have a single source of truth at the moment.

“Someone who has been working with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority for five months has acknowledged that about 370 Gl has been unallocated every year and yet the Murray-Darling Basin Authority cannot put a finger on where this water is.

“Yesterday (May 12) we talked about half a billion dollars of water that evaporates in the Lower Lakes, now we are talking about a quarter of billion dollars of water that is under-allocated.

“I think what we need to do is break up the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and put these various responsibilities into different organisations.”