Irrigators will use Wednesday’s Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission visit to Albury to remind South Australia the Basin Plan is bigger than one state.
The South Australian Government set up the Royal Commission in January to inquire into the operations and effectiveness of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
It is among a growing list of inquiries and reviews into the Murray Darling Basin Plan which covers Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
“We will be highlighting how much NSW has done, we’ll also be highlighting that it is a Basin Plan, not a South Australian Plan,” Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Gabrielle Coupland told The Border Mail.
“South Australia is trying to run their own investigation but I don’t know that it’s going to provide any more information than any of the other studies or inquiries or anything else that has been done in the past few years. It was established on political grounds.
“I think the Senate Standing Committees on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport, or the Murray Darling Basin Authority and the Productivity Commission, those cross-state organisations, are far better placed to obtain and understand and actually make better informed recommendations about how we move forward with the Basin Plan.”
The community consultation – at the Albury Entertainment Centre between 11am-12.30pm – is one of 10 meetings across the Murray Darling Basin.
It is a Basin Plan, not a South Australian Plan- Gabrielle Coupland, Southern Riverina Irrigators
Senior counsel assisting the commissioner, Richard Beasley, said it was important for the Royal Commission to listen to Basin communities and see key sites first-hand.
“We are very aware that many communities in the Basin have been invited to several community consultations, and may be feeling that they’ve said all they can about the Basin Plan,” he said.
“There are a number of matters of recent public debate about the Plan though, and the Royal Commission is very keen to hear what local residents, irrigators, and business owners have to say about these matters, and any other issue we are focusing on that arise from our Terms of Reference and Issues Paper.
“We anticipate the contributions of Basin communities will be a significant part of the Commission’s inquiry, and will provide important information to us about local views concerning the Basin Plan.”
NSW Water Minister Niall Blair has led the charge to address compliance and “illegal take” concerns which South Australia cited as the main reason for the Royal Commission.
Mrs Coupland said all communities wanted their best possible outcome from an imperfect plan and NSW was leading the way.
“We’ve got a pretty intense few weeks planned speaking to those people that may like some more information on what NSW has done in the space of compliance and regulation,” she said.
“Our current minister has been very strong on just making it happen.
“I think transparency is what will help us all understand what we want to achieve and whether we are achieving it.”
“That needs to apply to the environment, that needs to apply to all states, that needs to apply to irrigators.
“We all need to be accountable for what we have, how we’re using it and how we’re managing it.”
The Commission report is due on February 1, 2019.
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