The Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council (MinCo) is meeting this week and who knows
what they will be talking about, says Isaac Jeffrey, Chief Executive Officer of the National
Irrigators’ Council (NIC).
“The Ministerial Council is one of the deepest information blackholes in Australian politics,”
NIC CEO Isaac Jeffrey said.
“It is not clear which issues will be listed on the agenda and what the Ministers will be
discussing, and given the flow on effects of their decisions it really is not good enough.
“What is clear is that Basin Governments and regulators demand accountability and
transparency from water users, but given little recognition to the fact that they too, as key
decision makers, are required to be accountable and transparent with stakeholders.
“Irrigators have invested billions in their businesses and water infrastructure which is
creating local jobs and helping boost local economies, while for years water has been
given up to help support healthy rivers and communities.
“During these meetings, MinCo makes decisions which directly affect productive
agriculture industries and local communities. For certainty, accountability and
transparency, the NIC renews its calls for MinCo to publish their meeting dates and
agendas well ahead of the actual meeting, plus a timely and detailed release of meeting
minutes. The same should also be applied to Basin Officials Committee meetings.”
In addition to increasing accountability and transparency, the NIC is hoping MinCo
focuses on the progress of the at-risk Sustainable Diversion Limits projects.
“Industry supports a Basin Plan which delivers triple bottom line outcomes – economic,
environmental and community – and we have signed up to the plan in good faith and
have delivered on our obligations,” Mr Jeffrey said.
“It is time for Basin Governments to step up and get on with delivering on their obligations,
including delivering the SDL projects. They are too important to fail and if certain projects
cannot go ahead, viable alternatives need to be agreed at this meeting so they can get
started. Industry needs certainty, they don’t deserve the ever-present sword of Damocles
hanging over their head.
“We would also like to see agreement on the Interim-Inspector General for Water
Compliance legislation at this meeting.
“Governments should treat water as a bipartisan policy area and work together to build
vital infrastructure and to support industry, the environment and our local communities.”
Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890 firstname.lastname@example.org