An independent panel’s assessment of the method of devising water savings under the Murray-Darling Basin plan has concerned State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed.
Ms Sheed said the report prepared by a panel of three experts, including former Murray-Darling Basin Commission chief executive officer Don Blackmore, cast doubt on the base line used as a foundation for the basin’s calculations on savings.
She said it was clear there was no agreed benchmark.
Ms Sheed said the report also found a lack of transparency in some of the work of the authority and pointed to an inflexibility in the authority in relation to outcomes of environmental flows.
The authority said the report was completed in April and many of the issues raised had been addressed.
‘‘In particular, to help provide transparency and assurance to the assessment the MDBA established an independent expert panel of ecologists and hydrologists to review the outcomes of the methodology,’’ an authority spokesperson said.
‘‘The independent assessment found that there was minimal ecological risk and that the methodology was found to be scientifically rigorous and suitable for the adjustment process,’’ the spokesperson said.
‘‘The process for undertaking the SDL adjustment is outlined in the basin plan and was agreed by all jurisdictions in 2012 when the plan was adopted.
‘‘The MDBA’s role is to apply the agreed methodology to the projects nominated by the states to determine a volumetric measure. This was done in close consultation with basin jurisdictions.
‘‘The MDBA recognises that much of the work to develop the draft determination is highly specialised and technical and not easy for people to understand.’’
The MDBA remains confident in its assessment that an extra 605Gl can remain in consumptive use while the environmental outcomes that were committed to achieving under the basin plan are delivered.
Northern Victorian Irrigators chairman Barry Croke said the report indicated there was not enough information to make good decisions.
However, he was also concerned at the way the Blackmore report was written. He said it was unintelligible for many people to digest.