Don’t delay Keelty report, says Sheed

By James Bennett

There should be no delay to releasing the report of Murray-Darling Basin water resources interim inspector-general Mick Keelty’s inquiry into water sharing arrangements between the states, according to State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed.

Mr Keelty's report was due to be submitted to the ministerial council on Tuesday (March 31), but Ms Sheed was fearful the COVID-19 pandemic could delay potential changes to legislation.

“We are in the midst of a crisis, but that does not mean extremely important information, such as the findings of this inquiry, can be buried for six months,” she said.

“I am concerned that Federal Parliament will not sit until October and the outcomes of various reports and inquiries may be put on the back-burner during the pandemic response.

“I have written to Minister (Keith) Pitt and called on him to make this advice available publicly and as a matter of urgency following his receiving it.”

Ms Sheed said she had been informed Mr Keelty's advice did not need to be tabled in parliament and it was up to Mr Pitt to make it available.

“The minister must know that access to water in the southern basin is critical to food production such as dairy products, rice, wheat and other cereals, not to mention the huge variety of fruit and vegetables being produced.

“Water policy is arguably now more important as a result of the coronavirus crisis, not less.

“If Mr Keelty’s findings indicate that change is needed in how we distribute water, then we must be given the opportunity to assess the recommendations and see what is achievable.”