The Conservation Council ACT Region has joined with other state Conservation Councils in a letter to Prime Minister Turnbull urging action following the revelations of the ABC Four Corners broadcast Monday 24 July.
The Conservation Councils of South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, ACT and Queensland are the states’ peak environment groups representing over 350 members and 200,000 supporters across our states and Territory.
Given our commitment to protecting and conserving the wildlife, landscapes and natural resources of Australia we are very concerned that the decision-making and management of water in the Murray-Darling Basin, particularly the implementation of the Basin Plan, has fallen into the hands of vested interests.
The Prime Minister has proposed that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) lead an independent review into the allegations made in the program but such a review would be seriously compromised because the MDBA cannot bring an outside perspective to the review.
In addition, the current and proposed membership of the MDBA board, under Minister for Agriculture and Water, Barnaby Joyce, is not a balanced representation of expertise and interests.
Conservation groups have had very limited engagement with the MDBA Board during the implementation phase of the Basin Plan and correspondence on various issues has not received acknowledgement or reply.
The Conservation Councils are calling for a judicial inquiry into the water management in the Murray-Darling Basin and implementation of the Basin Plan, with the ability to call witnesses and provide protection for whistle blowers.
We also called for the water portfolio to be removed from the National Party both federally and in NSW while they continue to demonstrate disregard for both the health of our rivers and the integrity of the Basin Plan.
Photo: Large extraction for irrigation in Murray-Darling Basin