THE federal government's appointment of a "tough cop on the beat" across the Murray Darling Basin has fallen short of needs being sought by southern NSW irrigators.
Federal water minister David Littleproud yesterday announced the appointment of an Inspector General to provide transparency, accountability and assurance to communities on the basin plan with powers across the basin under the Water Act.
State and territory ministers will be asked this weekend to endorse the new position due to be established by 2020.
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Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar said improving transparency and accountability were welcomed, but the government still wasn't fully grappling the concerns of farmers in the southern Riverina who were still on zero water allocations.
"David Littleproud simply doesn't get it or if he does, he is prepared for southern NSW to be the sacrificial lamb for his precious basin plan," she said.
"We feel we are always criticising the federal government for its approach, but we just cannot seem to get the message across that at Commonwealth level they don't get the big picture.
"For whatever reason, delivering vast volumes of water to South Australia appears to be their main agenda."
The move follows the northern basin commissioner role filled by former AFP commissioner Mick Keelty.
Farrer MP Sussan Ley said the government was heeding the call for greater accountability, transparency and compliance in the basin with the role.
"The Inspector General role delivers exactly that," she said.
"There is already this type of oversight in the north of the basin and this will be a permanent position basin-wide, with an office also located here in southern NSW.
"Our irrigators in particular need to know the basin plan is achieving what it was intended to do.
"This appointment will give my communities greater confidence in how the plan is being implemented and how our water resources are being managed."