State governments need to lift their game if the Basin Plan is going to deliver the benefits promised to the environment and communities.
In response to the Productivity Commission’s draft five-year assessment of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Campaigns Director, Dr Paul Sinclair, said:
“We welcome the Productivity Commission’s clear-eyed assessment of the serious governance failures that have weakened the implementation of the Basin Plan at the expense of a healthy river system.
“The Commission’s proposed solution of creating a new regulator operating independently of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is worthy of further consideration.
“ACF has always been concerned that the delivery of 450 gigalitres of additional environmental water is unlikely to be delivered on time and will probably blow out the government’s budget.
“This is a problem of Basin governments’ own making because they have restricted themselves to investing in the most expensive and least effective forms of water recovery.
“The final Commission report should make it clear that governments must be allowed to buy water back to meet recovery targets.
“The Productivity Commission also highlights the fact that environmental water holders are unable to use the water that has been set aside to revive and restore thirsty rivers and wetlands because constraints to the delivery of this water have not yet been removed.
“This is a critical failure that must be fixed if the Basin Plan is to be successful.
“Sadly, the Productivity Commission largely ignores the impact of climate damage on the river system.
“Climate change is happening, whether governments acknowledge it or not. ACF hopes this oversight is addressed in the final report.”