Water

Loud calls for royal commission into Murray-Darling Basin Plan

By Country News

A federal royal commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is the only way to expose the reasons behind its failings, according to local farming and community groups.

Calls have been mounting for a royal commission, with NSW Farmers calling for the National Farmers’ Federation and the NSW Government to throw their support behind the push.

Murrumbidgee Industry and Agriculture Communities chair Paul Pierotti said farming groups applaud the actions of NSW Farmers because communities believe “there is no other option” to getting to the bottom of the basin plan’s failings.

His stance has been supported by Jan Beer, from Upper Goulburn River Catchment Association, who said she could not understand why the VFF did not also publicly support a royal commission, especially as it was backed by about 200 delegates at last year’s Victorian Liberal Party conference.

Mrs Beer said communities were at breaking point.

“A vast range of community and farming organisations support the royal commission as a last resort to get some fairness and common sense back into the basin plan,” she said.

“All other avenues we have explored have been met with closed doors from governments and bureaucracies at all levels.

“We want to get to the bottom of why we are being sacrificed for questionable environmental gain in some instances, and obvious environmental damage, which is being ignored, in others.”

Mr Pierotti said among the issues a royal commission must address is floodplain harvesting in the northern basin, which is significantly impacting on the Murray River system.

Mrs Beer called for a federal royal commission to examine why billions of litres a year is allowed to flow out to sea via South Australia's south-east drains, which once drained into the southern Coorong.