Water

MinCo meeting on today

By Rodney Woods

An independent report commissioned by the Victorian and New South Wales governments has found a key element of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has “a high chance of failure” if changes are not made.

Both state ministers will be pushing for just that when the Ministerial Council meets in Brisbane today after the Murray-Darling Basin constraints modelling was reviewed in light of community concerns about the unacknowledged impacts of proposed higher flows on land, businesses and local infrastructure.

The independent panel convened a series of workshops to consult with modelling, operational and environmental experts from Victorian and NSW state departments and agencies and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The report concluded that the existing modelling undertaken for the Constraints Measures Program was insufficient and did not:

• explain to communities how increased flows will impact property and businesses
• demonstrate the likely benefits for the environment for the extensive expenditure of public money
• give river operators confidence that they will not inadvertently flood someone without their consent.

Also on the agenda, Federal Water Minister David Littleproud, who is the council's chair, will again urge the states to support the Interim Inspector-General of Murray-Darling Water Resources in both his initial investigation and on the position having the full powers of an independent umpire.

Post the Convoy to Canberra, Mr Littleproud also asked the Interim Inspector-General to undertake an inquiry into water management of Murray-Darling water resources and report back by March 31.

While the location of the MinCo meeting has not been revealed, a group of representatives from the recent Convoy to Canberra, including Sunraysia citrus growers and Southern Riverina food producers, have gathered outside Parliament House in Brisbane, giving out produce, before they move to the Sofitel Hotel where they believe the Water Ministers will be meeting.