Split MDBA up: Ryan

By Geoff Adams

Irrigators and basin communities have lost faith in the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA).

The only way to restore faith is genuine change.

We must do more than just shuffle the deckchairs to earn the confidence of irrigators and Basin communities – it’s time for a complete overhaul of the MDBA.

I’m calling on the Federal Government to act on the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to split the authority.

The Productivity Commission delivered a scathing report of the MDBA in January, describing it as “an inherently conflicted entity and is perceived as such by stakeholders”.

The commission also found the MDBA “marks its own homework” and recommended separating its responsibilities.

I recently raised the issue with Federal Water Minister David Littleproud on a trip to Canberra with Victorian Nationals Leader Peter Walsh.

The MDBA is a massive bureaucratic machine within the Canberra bubble and it is time for it to be split up and start looking outwards, not inwards.

Separating the MDBA’s responsibilities for river operations, implementation of the basin plan and its regulatory role is common sense and it will help address real concerns that the authority is a law unto itself.

It will also provide more opportunities for more functions and staff to be regionally based, in communities that are genuinely impacted by the implementation of the basin plan.

It’s now been 10 months since this report was handed to basin ministers.

The appointment of an Inspector-General is welcome, but I believe stronger action is required to address the inherent conflicts in the MDBA’s role.

Basin communities and stakeholders have lost faith in the MDBA’s ability to manage its conflicting responsibilities to the benefit of all river users. The only way to restore faith is through genuine change.

It’s time to pull down the ivory tower that is the MDBA.