In the wake of fresh allegations concerning the misuse and theft of the Murray Darling basin water, South Australian senator, Nick Xenophon has called for a royal commission, according to the Guardian.
Now, Sarah Hanson-Young, a senator also for South Australia whose portfolio responsibilities include the Murray Darling Basin, has promised to write a request to the auditor general, asking for a review of the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) in order to ensure the AUD$13 billion (US$10.3 billion) plan is working after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) claimed that a farm along the Macintyre River in Queensland, Australia, had a levee as well as earth works that block water from flowing downstream.
The farmer, however, has denied the allegations, saying that the levee was instead a road that was constructed before he bought the property, and was equipped with drains to allow the floodwaters to flow through.
Meanwhile, other farmers similarly along the river said that the plan was not working, alleging that water was backed up. A report has shown problems with the plan itself, as well as various claims that the MDBA failed to listen to, and taken into account, concerns of farmers affected.
Xenophon has stated that the allegations have underlined a need for a royal commission as all levels of the Australian government had to answer to it, but the current Senate inquiry is not able to compel either state public servants or state governments to appear. He will soon be putting a motion to the Senate forward, asking for documents from the federal government and the MDBA regarding the latest allegations to be aired.
“It looks like this AUD$13 billion (US$10.3 billion) project, this nation-building plant o save the river, to save farming communities is being built on a house of cards because the compliance mechanisms just have so many holes in them,” Xenophon said, also noting that Barnaby Joyce, the deputy prime minister, would not be able to continue to act as the minister for water and agriculture credibly, as the portfolios in protecting the environment and the interests of farmers conflict with each other.
“How many more reports of water misuse and theft need to come out before proper action is taken? It’s time to shine a light on where the plan is being exploited,” Hanson-Young stated. “River communities are crying out for the government and the Murray Darling Basin Authority to listen to their long-held concerns, and act. Those living in the Basin know all too well that if their neighbour’s doing the wrong thing, there will be others doing the wrong thing elsewhere. We need decisive action on this and unfortunately we have a minister who can’t make decisions because of his citizenship bungle. He’s not just an incompetent water minister, he’s not utterly useless. We need a new minister who can act and clear up this rorting and corruption.”
Source: The Guardian, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation