From the floor of the Victorian Parliament Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed yesterday targeted mismanagement and fraudulent behaviour in the Northern Murray Darling Basin.
During a question to Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville, Ms Sheed strongly criticised the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“Minister, the ongoing rollout of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is a cause for great concern throughout the southern basin, and there is little confidence that there will be integrity in its ongoing management,” Ms Sheed said.
“Given the litany of mismanagement, questionable water purchases and fraudulent behaviour, particularly in the northern basin. More recently allegations of tampering have occurred in relation to evidence about South Australia’s scientific reports into the Coorong lakes.”
Noting an agreement made by COAG water ministers last November, Ms Sheed called on the Minister to ensure no further water would be removed from the Goulburn-Murray Water District under the agreed “socio-economic test.”
“What steps will the Victorian Government take to ensure that the socio-economic test will be applied fairly and that no further water will be removed from the consumptive pool as part of all these projects?” Ms Sheed said.
Minister Neville responded that her government was committed to applying the strict socio-economic test agreed to last November to prevent further loss of water from the GMID consumptive pool.
“It is my view that no more water will come from the consumptive or productive pool – it has to come from water savings, otherwise we risk the future of the GMID (Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District) and other productive areas,” Minister Neville said
Ms Sheed also questioned the Minister about the appointment of a new Inspector-General tasked with overseeing the entire basin plan.
“What confidence do you have in the role of Inspector-General building community confidence in water management and compliance across the whole Basin and what are your expectations of him from a Victorian government perspective?” Ms Sheed said.
The Minister replied the Andrews Government supported the appointment of an inspector-general to oversee the Murray Darling Basin Plan and in particular the northern basin.
“The member is right to say that there have been significant issues in terms of transparency and accountability, particularly in the Northern Basin. There is no question about that. We had a long conversation about that at the last ministerial council in relation to the appointment of the Inspector-General,” Minister Neville said.
“In supporting the Inspector-General appointment, this was about making sure we did have somebody who looked at the systemic issues and was able to report back to states and to the ministerial council to show where there are any systemic issues around water misuse.”
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